Minneapolis police union files complaints against city attorney

The union representing rank-and-file Minneapolis Police officers has filed ethics complaints against Minneapolis City Attorney Jim Rowader.  

The complaints with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility and the City of Minneapolis Ethical Practices Board, concern comments Rowader made in a Star Tribune Op/Ed on February 8, under the headline, "Counterpoint:  Why I’m one of many seeking justice in Minneapolis."

In that piece, Rowader explains why he left his job as a corporate attorney for Target eight months ago to become City Attorney in order to be a catalyst for change after the murder of George Floyd.

"Minneapolis Police have unfortunately practiced inequitable policing based on the color of one’s skin for too long — decades at least. It has to stop, it has to change — now, today, tomorrow and for good," Rowader wrote.  

In the complaint to the lawyers board, the union argues Rowader’s comments were made while he is representing the MPD and its employees in the investigation announced June 1, 2020 by the Minnesota Human Rights Department and in several pending civil suits. 

The union claims Rowader's comments compromise his ability to "adequately represent his clients and the faith and confidence his clients have as to his judgment, competency, integrity, and loyalty." The union contends they are entitled to Rowader’s representation under their collective bargaining agreement.  

In the complaint before the city’s ethics board, the union writes the Rowader’s comments have "seriously compromised both his ability to adequately represent his clients and the faith and confidence of his clients regarding his judgment and competency."

Both complaints were signed by Minneapolis Police Federation President Sherral Schmidt and its executive board.  

Attorney Fred Bruno, who frequently represents the union in lawsuits, told the Star Tribune in February that, "I would take the position that Mr. Rowader has disqualified himself, and perhaps all attorneys under him, from representing city employees, having publicly trumpeted his antipathy toward his own clients."

Rowader was also present on stage with the family of George Floyd when the city agreed to a $27 million settlement, while the murder trial of Derek Chauvin was on-going.  The timing of the announcement was criticized by Judge Peter Cahill. 

The Minneapolis Police Federation declined to comment on its complaints.  FOX 9 is awaiting comment from Rowader and the City of Minneapolis.