Attorneys, judge to settle on rules ahead of Mohamed Noor trial

Friday’s pretrial hearing in the case of Mohamed Noor, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the shooting death of Justine Damond, was the last chance for attorneys on both sides to ask a judge to set ground rules before the trial starts in April. 

Noor, 33, is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Damond, who also went by Justine Ruszczyk. Damond was shot when she approached his squad car after calling police to report a possible assault in the alley behind her home in the Fulton neighborhood of southwest Minneapolis.

Earlier this month, Noor formally entered a not guilty plea. 

A Hennepin County judge has already ruled on a number of issues, from Noor’s refusal to speak to investigators about the shooting to what evidence jurors should be allowed to hear. 

The jury will also be anonymous and only referred to by number in court. This will be done not for security purposes, but because there is so much scrutiny.

The judge also wants graphic pictures and possibly video of the scene only be shown to the jury, and lawyers and not those in the gallery. 

The main issue was the qualifications of the experts on both sides, which took most of the afternoon. The defenses’ expert, Emanuel Kapelsohn, who has done law enforcement training and consulting, spoke at the hearing. The defense plans for him to talk about use of force issues. For the prosecution side, there were two law enforcement officers, who the state wants to testify about use of force and police practice issues. The judge did not make a ruling and will answer in writing most likely next week.

Despite being a high-profile case, there will be limited seating inside the courtroom for both the public and the media. An overflow courtroom will have an audio and video feed, but that will also have very limited seating and tight security. 

The judge made it clear that her rulings Friday could change as things develop during the trial.

Jury selection begins on Monday. The court has approved a 17-page questionnaire for prospective jurors to fill out.