Hennepin County Attorney's Office files motion to reconsider disqualification of 4 prosecutors from Floyd case

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office filed a motion Monday for a judge to reconsider his order to disqualify four prosecutors from the murder case against four former Minneapolis Police Officers in the death of George Floyd.

Earlier this month, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill barred Freeman, Senior Hennepin County Attorney Amy Sweasy, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Patrick Lofton and Deputy Hennepin County Attorney Andy LeFevour from participating in the prosecution of the case for what he described as “sloppy” work while interviewing a witness, Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker, prior to filing murder charges. Baker performed Floyd’s autopsy.

In the motion, assistant Hennepin County Attorney Joshua Larson wrote that “there is no rule which requires the inclusion of a non-attorney witness when speaking to an experienced and routine government witness.”

The motion also includes an affidavit by William J. Wernz, former director of the Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility and past president of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, a national organization of lawyers practicing in the area of legal ethics. According to the release, Wernz is an expert on Rule 3.7 of Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct, which Judge Cahill used as the basis for disqualifying Freeman and the other three lawyers.

In his affadavit, Wernz concluded that “…in my opinion, the interviews of the Hennepin County Medical Examiner by HCAO (Hennepin County Attorney’s Office) did not furnish any basis for a conclusion that they violated Rule 3.7.”

No schedule has been set for a decision by the judge on the reconsideration motion.