Minnesota Supreme Court’s recent unanimous decision to overturn the sexual assault conviction of a man found guilty of raping an unconscious woman exposed a loophole in state law and has major implications moving forward.
The case turned on whether a voluntarily intoxicated person was mentally incapacitated under the law. In the opinion, Justice Paul Thissen found that the lower court made a reversible error in jury instructions. At trial, the judge instructed the jury that mentally incapacitated included a person who was voluntarily intoxicated.
But Thissen pointed to the actual language of Minn. Stat. § 609.341(7), which defines mentally incapacitated as “a person under the influence of alcohol, a narcotic, anesthetic, or any other substance, administered to that person without the person’s agreement, lacks the judgment to give a reasoned consent to sexual contact or sexual penetration.”
Thissen determined that because the perpetrator did not get the victim intoxicated without her knowledge, the jury instruction was improper as given.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has overturned a rape conviction, ruling that the state’s legal definition of “mentally incapacitated” didn't apply if a victim consumed drugs or alcohol voluntarily. It urged the legislature to fix the law. @MPRnews https://t.co/ABTMVaagCH
— NPR (@NPR) March 26, 2021
Thissen suggested the legislature should revise the law. In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Lindsay Brice, law and policy director for the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said the statute is a problem.
“It makes it very clear that this issue needs to be fixed at the Legislature,” Brice said.
A jury convicted Francois Khalil in 2019 of third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving an impaired person. Khalil met an intoxicated woman after she was refused entry into a bar.
Only mentioned by her initials, Thissen recounted the woman’s testimony of passing out and waking up to find Khalil trying to penetrate her.
Thissen explained that prosecutors declined to charge Khalil with a lesser charge that criminalizes non-consensual sexual contact. He noted Khalil conceded that charge would have applied. But it was only a gross misdemeanor instead of a felony.
Content Warning: Sexual Assault
We're working on legislation to close this loophole. All Minnesota victims of sexual assault should be entitled to justice.
Thank you Rep. Kelly Moller for leading this bill.https://t.co/NEptRQS3tz
— Minnesota House DFL (@mnhouseDFL) March 25, 2021
Democratic state Rep. Kelly Moller called for a closing of the intoxication loophole. She introduced a bill to amend the statute. An assistant Hennepin County attorney, Moller pointed to the law as a needed tool for prosecutors.
“This is something that will make a difference for those who do come forward and have these sets of circumstances, that their cases will at least be chargeable,” Moller told Minnesota Public Radio.
In February, a working group issued a report exploring gaps in the state’s sexual assault law, pointed out the gap in who is considered mentally incapacitated. According to the Star Tribune, the working group was convened after an investigative series by the outlet exploring the lack of justice for sexual assault victims in the state.
The Star Tribune reported that the current definition of mentally incapacitated, excluding people who are voluntarily intoxicated, makes it difficult to prosecute cases.
The working group also suggested making sexual extortion a crime, which Moller’s proposed legislation includes.
Justice For George Floyd: Key Takeaways From The Derek Chauvin Murder Trial
1. April 9
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MEDICAL EXAMINER: Dr. Andrew Baker, who performed the autopsy of #GeorgeFloyd, takes the stand in the #DerekChauvinTrial.— Court TV (@CourtTV) April 9, 2021
WATCH LIVE – MN v. Derek Chauvin https://t.co/bis122QdFc pic.twitter.com/tLghfByU6v
2. April 9
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Forensic pathologist Dr. Lindsey Thomas testifies that the cause of George Floyd’s death was law enforcement subdual, restraint and compression and the manner of death was homicide. She then dismisses defense counsel’s irrelevant hypotheticals. pic.twitter.com/QLSbvanPjW— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) April 9, 2021
3. April 8
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‘He died because he had no oxygen left in his body’ — Police surgeon Dr. Bill Smock testified that George Floyd died from a lack of oxygen during the Derek Chauvin murder trial pic.twitter.com/VRlFMGVwgQ— NowThis (@nowthisnews) April 8, 2021
4. April 8
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Dr. Tobin says he was able to calculate that George Floyd lost all of his oxygen at 8:25:41 p.m. on May 25, 2020, but Chauvin's "knee remained on his neck for another three minutes and two seconds after we reach the point where there’s not one ounce of oxygen left in the body.” pic.twitter.com/4JciatNdYe— Danny Spewak (@DannySpewak) April 8, 2021
5. April 7
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LAPD Sgt. Jody Stiger testified he did not find George Floyd posed a threat to officers' safety when handcuffed on the ground, while the defense questioned him about how a "reasonable police officer" might have responded. https://t.co/wlRD2qQuT5 pic.twitter.com/V0fke8eHk2— ABC News (@ABC) April 7, 2021
6. April 6
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Minneapolis Police Sgt. Ker Yang details crisis intervention training Derek Chauvin received years before George Floyd's arrest, saying it included reviews of force and deescalation policies: "The ultimate goal in action for someone in crisis is to see if that person needs help" pic.twitter.com/mmuwoQogjd— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 6, 2021
7. April 5
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Minneapolis police chief testifies some of ex-officer Derek Chauvin's actions at the scene of George Floyd's arrest were not "by policy, not part of our training and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values." https://t.co/hQ041CegJ3 pic.twitter.com/9nAMw3yBJQ— ABC News (@ABC) April 5, 2021
8. April 5
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MN V. CHAUVIN: Dr. Bradford Langenfeld took the stand today to describe the care given to #GeorgeFloyd.— Court TV (@CourtTV) April 5, 2021
Dr. Langenfeld said the chance of a patient’s survival goes down 10 to 15 percent every minute CPR is not performed.
WATCH LIVE – MN v. Derek Chauvin https://t.co/bis122QdFc pic.twitter.com/gRiiz0yWDU
9. April 1
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Derek Chauvin’s supervisor David Pleoger was just asked his opinion on when the restraint of George Floyd should have ended:— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) April 1, 2021
“When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended their restraint.”
“No further questions.” pic.twitter.com/tMBRAMHwmw
10. April 1
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Courteney Ross, George Floyd’s former girlfriend, takes the stand on Day 4 of Chauvin trial and recounts the first time she met him.— The Recount (@therecount) April 1, 2021
She was upset while waiting in a lobby. Floyd asked what was wrong and said “Can I pray with you?” pic.twitter.com/YWcAuIfyUY
11. March 31
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Charles McMillian, who tried to speak to George Floyd as officers first tried to put him in a police car and then later as Floyd shouted for his mama while Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck, just broke down on the witness stand.— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) March 31, 2021
Court on a break now.pic.twitter.com/otRlBocOuZ
12. March 31
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The teenager who first confronted George Floyd told the court he couldn’t believe what happened after police arrived and immediately regretted flagging the fake $20 bill. Christopher Martin said he felt "disbelief and guilt."— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 31, 2021
Watch live coverage: https://t.co/UZ3xJMoP34 pic.twitter.com/rtkV9Mt2Jh
13. March 30
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Darnella Frazier's 9-year-old cousin testified that Derek Chauvin had to be moved off of George Floyd's neck by EMTs.— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) March 30, 2021
Of seeing this, she said, "I was sad and kind of mad ... cause it felt like he was stopping his breathing and kind of like hurting him."
14. March 30
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Darnella Frazier who filmed death of George Floyd at 17: "There have been nights I stayed up apologizing & apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more & not physically interacting & not saving his life. But it’s like not what I should have done, it’s what he should have done."— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) March 30, 2021
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17. March 29
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"My instincts were telling me something was wrong," Minneapolis 911 dispatcher testifies at Derek Chauvin trial.— ABC News (@ABC) March 29, 2021
"I took that instinct and I called the sergeant" who supervises police officers, she adds. https://t.co/Wa8qAc5e5v pic.twitter.com/Qn4WQw9yU6
18. March 29
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Day 1 of the Derek Chauvin trial is finished - and protestors are gathering outside the courthouse in Minneapolis. pic.twitter.com/yD2m2cexRI— Brian Entin (@BrianEntin) March 29, 2021
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24. March 22 - all jurors selected
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The jury in the Derek Chauvin murder trial is now seated. Here’s each member’s self identified race, gender and age information: pic.twitter.com/QqhfG2Ge6p— Janel Klein (@JanelKlein) March 23, 2021
25. March 19
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Judge denies defense motions to delay and move the trial of Derek Chauvin to a different venue due to “pretrial publicity.” pic.twitter.com/tEv8t8ZAdO— The Recount (@therecount) March 19, 2021
26. March 17
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A judge Wednesday dismissed two seated jurors in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer accused in George Floyd's death over concerns a $27M settlement the city reached with Floyd's family would affect their ability to be impartial.https://t.co/JMNgTBUWt4 via @nbcnews— Janelle Fiona Griffith (@janellefiona) March 17, 2021
27. March 15
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Ex-officer Derek Chauvin's defense team requests a delay in his trial due to news of the city's $27 million settlement with George Floyd's family https://t.co/l1BQt8OXxr— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) March 15, 2021
28. March 11
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Judge Peter Cahill has reinstated the third-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin over the killing of George Floyd. pic.twitter.com/Fud7V9VRhR— The Recount (@therecount) March 11, 2021
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Overturned Conviction For Rape Of Unconscious Woman Exposes Major Shortcoming In State Law was originally published on newsone.com