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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pioneer Press/ On paper anyway, a tough choice for voters selecting new Ramsey County attorney

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Pioneer Press said...

Choi, Schultz both offer solid résumés as they tout selves
By Emily Gurnon
egurnon@pioneerpress.com
Updated: 10/27/2010 12:08:22 AM CDT


"We can't lose."

That was the sentiment expressed at a debate this month between the candidates for Ramsey County attorney, John Choi and David Schultz.

Both men are known for their intelligence, leadership skills and significant accomplishments.

They have sought to distinguish themselves by citing specific experience and pointing out who's supporting them.

"I am the only candidate who has prosecuted felonies," said Schultz, who worked for 11 years with the state attorney general's office. He has spent the past 14 years in private practice, trying civil and criminal cases.

Those 25 years as a courtroom attorney are perhaps the biggest difference between him and Choi, said Schultz, a partner at Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand in Minneapolis.

"Would you hire a fire chief who has never been to a fire, or a police chief who has never made an arrest?" he said. "If you're going to lead an office of courtroom lawyers, you've got to show them that you understand their job."

Choi said he led a prosecution office, the St. Paul city attorney's office, the same way he would run the county attorney's office: with leadership that wins the support of employees and the public.

"I feel so strongly about this," Choi said. "This is what the public wants — to see results."

Those results during his time as city attorney, he said, include better coordination with other facets of the criminal justice system on domestic violence issues; his use of civil gang


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injunctions to curb gang violence at city festivals; and the creation, with the Legislature, of a diversion program to end the revolving-door cycle of people with suspended driver's licenses.
He held the position for four years until he resigned to run for the county attorney job. Choi was an attorney representing cities at the state Capitol when St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman tapped him as city attorney.

Choi said he counts among his supporters many city attorney office staff who used to work for him as well as county prosecutors who have heard what an effective boss he is.

"That's the gift that I have," he said. "I can get people to work with me and accomplish something jointly, collaboratively."

Choi also has collected hefty endorsements from the likes of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, former Vice President Walter Mondale, St. Paul police and firefighters' unions, other union groups and elected officials from both the Republican and DFL parties.

Schultz said that he's the "outsider" in the race and that his campaign has thrived on grass-roots support. He criticizes Choi for seeking a political endorsement for a nonpartisan seat.

Choi counters that Schultz went through the endorsement process, too — though Schultz said he did that because it was the only way to get his message to party activists.

Schultz lists hundreds of supporters on his website, though most are attorneys.

Schultz, too, speaks passionately about his accomplishments. He has served on the board of the Innocence Project of Minnesota and the Council on Crime and Justice; he assisted attorneys in Kenya in the official inquest into the killing of the Rev. John Kaiser, a Minnesota priest; and he is working to free a man he said was wrongly convicted of murder in Texas.

10:56 PM  
Anonymous story continued said...

That's atop his regular workload, which includes trying cases involving intellectual property and commercial litigation, mass tort and product liability, and civil and criminal fraud.

Asked at a recent forum to describe one of their cases that was met with criticism, Schultz cited the case of Ray Rogers, a man he represented who helped lead the Hormel meatpacking strike in 1985 and 1986. Rogers was charged with criminal syndicalism.

"Ray Rogers was not a popular man. That strike was not a popular strike," Schultz said. Yet he represented him free of charge, while others at his firm said, "What are you doing?" Schultz said.

The charges were eventually thrown out on constitutional grounds, Schultz said.

Choi named the 2008 Republican National Convention protest arrests as his crucible.

"We were presented with about 700 cases — we ultimately had to make the right calls," Choi said. "There was incredible political pressure on the mayor and myself to dismiss those cases right out of the chute."

They didn't do that, Choi said — though 85 percent were eventually thrown out.

"That was a real tough moment during my tenure because of the political pressure, but we stood strong."

The county attorney prosecutes the most serious crimes in the county, including felonies and some gross misdemeanors, and prosecutes all juvenile offenses. The person who holds the job also defends the county in lawsuits and, in the case of Ramsey County, collects child support.

10:57 PM  
Anonymous story conclusion said...

JOHN CHOI, 40

City: St. Paul

Family: Spouse Youn; son Will

Education: Law degree, Hamline Law School; Humphrey Fellow at the University of Minnesota; B.A., Marquette University

Occupation: Attorney

Relevant experience: I served as the St. Paul city attorney from 2006-10. I had a very successful tenure and was recognized as the top city attorney in North America in 2009. I have a proven record of finding innovative solutions, including pioneering the use of civil injunctions to fight gang violence.

If budget reductions were necessary in your area, what would you cut? As the only candidate in this race who has led a prosecution office during difficult budget times, I know the problem of diminishing resources is a significant challenge. I will advocate for more funding, but the reality is that we must find innovative solutions to get the job done.

Why should people vote for you? I am the candidate in this race with the support of our police and firefighters. They trust me to be the next county attorney because they know I have the experience to do the job well from the first day. If elected, I'll focus on domestic violence and juvenile crime.

Contact: votejohnchoi.com

DAVID T. SCHULTZ, 51

City: St. Paul

Family: Spouse Trudi Trysla; children Sam, Colin and Nina

Education: Law degree, Stanford University; B.A., Carleton College

Occupation: Trial attorney

Relevant experience: Eleven years as an assistant attorney general prosecuting white-collar criminals, keeping sexual predators off the streets and defending state officials in high-stakes civil trials and appeals. Fourteen years as a partner in a private firm with an active civil and criminal trial and appellate practice and leadership/ managerial experience.

If budget reductions were necessary in your area, what would you cut? Before cutting services or personnel, I would first attempt to augment revenue by obtaining available grant funding from various federal agencies. If necessary, I would reduce expenses through natural attrition, salary freezes (where possible) and elimination of discretionary expenditures (e.g., paid continuing legal education that can be obtained for free).

Why should people vote for you? I am the only candidate whose background covers all the bases — significant courtroom and trial experience, felony criminal prosecution experience, organizational leadership/management experience and a demonstrated commitment to justice. I am the only candidate running without party affiliation in this nonpartisan race. This office must be nonpolitical.

Contact: schultzforcountyattorney.com

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Schultz for Ramsey County Attorney!

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like Eric wrote this for his good buddy Choi !!

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Maslon LawFirm_Andy Dawkins? said...

PS Isn't David Schultz in the Same La Firm as Andy Dawkin's You people do not do extensive research Both Candidates for Ramsey Co. Attorney are Negative Impact to the Landlords.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Short Spelling Lesson: The last four letters in American...I Can The last four letters in Republican...I Can The last four letters in Democrats...Rats

8:50 AM  

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