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Judge finds segregated schools do not violate Minnesota constitution if Cruz-Guzman plaintiffs can’t prove intent, causation

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Judge finds segregated schools do not violate Minnesota constitution if Cruz-Guzman plaintiffs can’t prove intent, causation

The plaintiffs in a major school segregation lawsuit have failed to persuade a judge that racial and socioeconomic imbalances in Twin Cities area school enrollment amount to a violation of Minnesota’s constitution.

Hennepin County District Judge Susan Robiner this week denied the plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment in Cruz-Guzman v. State of Minnesota.

However, Robiner asked the state Court of Appeals for an immediate review of her decision, writing that she had little legal precedent to work from, that the case is important, and that there’s a fair chance the appellate court will overturn her order.

The lawsuit, filed in 2015 against state education officials and lawmakers, alleged that state laws and policies on open enrollment, integration and charter schools have caused segregation in Twin Cities and suburban schools.

State officials early this year agreed to a settlement that would have created $63 million a year in ongoing obligations for the state, including an integrative busing program, new magnet schools and new orders for charter schools to desegregate.

But when the state Legislature declined to act on the settlement, plaintiffs attorney Dan Shulman asked the judge to decide key parts of the case in his favor without going to trial.

THE FOOTNOTE

Shulman argued in his motion that the simple fact that many metro schools are segregated is enough to find the state’s education system unconstitutional.

His argument relied in large part on a footnote from the 2018 state Supreme Court decision that revived the Cruz-Guzman case after an appeals court panel dismissed it.

The footnote said that it’s “self-evident that a segregated system of public schools is not ‘general,’ ‘uniform,’ ‘thorough,’ or ‘efficient’” — quoting words found in the education clause of the Minnesota constitution.

Robiner this week described Shulman’s argument as an “over-interpretation” of the footnote.

In her view, the segregation must be “intentional” in order to find a constitutional violation. If she’s wrong and Shulman is right, she wrote, then the only remedy would be to redistribute Twin Cities students to different schools according to their race, which the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly said violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

“Plaintiffs argue that racial imbalance alone establishes an Education Clause violation. Therefore, whether explicitly or implicitly, Plaintiffs are asking this Court to order Defendants to eliminate the challenged racial imbalances,” Robiner wrote.

“This Court has concluded that it cannot issue such an order in the absence of de jure segregation; because without de jure segregation, a race-conscious remedy would place Defendants squarely in front of the propeller blade of an Equal Protection claim.”

INTENT, CAUSATION

Even if the Court of Appeals upholds Robiner’s latest ruling, the lawsuit will move forward, and Shulman will have the opportunity to try other arguments.

He already has offered evidence that some of the state’s policies on school integration were written with intent to segregate, which could be unconstitutional.

At this point, though, “The factual record is wholly inadequate to establish intentional de jure” — intentional — “segregation by Defendants as a matter of undisputed material fact,” Robiner wrote.

Robiner wrote that the plaintiffs also must prove the state’s laws and policies actually have caused school segregation, calling the counterargument “antithetical to basic legal principles.”

The plaintiffs, hoping that the numerical imbalances would be enough to win the case, so far have made little effort to demonstrate causation.

Indeed, the judge wrote, the plaintiffs’ experts have offered explanations for why someone besides the state defendants may be to blame for segregated schools. She cited “intransigent contributors … including housing and poverty patterns, and in the case of charter school enrollment and open enrollment, the fact that parents opt into these schools.”

The judge canceled a Friday status hearing on the case in light of her request that the Court of Appeals review her order.

Specifically, she’s asking the appellate court to determine whether a racially imbalanced system of schools violates the state’s education clause, even in the absence of intent or proof that the state’s actions caused the segregation.

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What is the best face mask? Expert breaks down N95, KN95, KF94 and how to spot a fake

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What is the best face mask? Expert breaks down N95, KN95, KF94 and how to spot a fake

A self-proclaimed “mask nerd” warns that not all face coverings are alike, but the best ones work wonders.

His unmasking advice hits as cloth coverings are out and CDC-recommended respirators are in. But all the options present a daunting challenge as omicron lurks, but that’s where mechanical engineer and aerosol science expert Aaron Collins comes to the rescue.

“It’s way too confusing for consumers and I don’t blame them for being upset about this,” Collins said during a sit-down with Sen. Edward Markey on Friday that focused on best practices in choosing a mask. “There’s all kinds of weirdness around this.”

Collins, who tests respirators on his Youtube channel, agrees with the CDC’s recommendation to ditch cloth masks for tight-fitting masks that feature polypropylene filters: tightly woven synthetic fibers that create an electrostatic charge, trapping up to 99% of virus particles.

“We used our 1918 pandemic technology to start this. Let’s move on,” Collins said.

He also warned against relying on surgical masks, which feature good materials, but “lack the fit” necessary for strong protection against virus transmission.

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Trial scheduled in 1986 Chisholm homicide after DNA leads to suspect

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Trial scheduled in 1986 Chisholm homicide after DNA leads to suspect

A nearly four-week trial has been scheduled for the Chisholm, Minn., man accused of raping and killing a woman in 1986.

Michael Allan Carbo Jr. (St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department via AP)

Michael Allan Carbo Jr., 53, was arrested and charged in July 2020 after DNA evidence and privately maintained genealogy databases allegedly helped identify him as the man responsible for the death of 38-year-old Nancy Daugherty in northeastern Minnesota.

Judge Robert Friday, who previously affirmed one of the first-of-its-kind investigations in Minnesota, scheduled jury selection to begin June 1 in St. Louis County District Court in Hibbing. The presentation of evidence and arguments may continue as late as June 24.

Daugherty, a mother of two, was found dead inside her Chisholm home on July 16, 1986. She had been sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled, with police indicating there were signs of struggle both inside and outside the residence.

Over the years, authorities said “well over” 100 DNA samples from potential suspects were tested, but none resulted in a match. It was in late 2019 and early 2020 that Chisholm police made the decision to contract with Parabon NanoLabs, a company based in the state of Virginia, in hopes of developing new leads.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension released a sample of the suspect’s semen to another company, AKESOgen, in order to develop a single nucleotide polymorphism profile, which allows experts to determine physical characteristics and ancestry of an individual. Parabon then used that profile to search privately maintained databases known as GEDMatch and FamilyTreeDNA.

Nancy Daugherty
Nancy Daugherty (Courtesy photo via Forum News Service)

Carbo had never personally submitted a DNA sample to either database, but Parabon’s searches reportedly turned up several genetic relatives, leading to the development of family trees and the identification of him as a suspect. Carbo, 18 years old at the time of Daugherty’s killing, had lived within a mile of the victim and went to school with her children, court documents state.

BCA agents in July 2020 started surveillance of Carbo, retrieving trash bags he had thrown into a dumpster outside his Chisholm apartment building. Taking swabs of paper towels, facial tissues, Q-tips, a beer can and a SlimFast bottle, analysts said they were able to develop a DNA profile that was consistent with that of the suspect from 1986.

Agents then approached Carbo and asked him to voluntarily submit a sample, which again confirmed the match, according to court documents.

Judge Friday in November rejected constitutional challenges to the investigation, likely setting a precedent for police in the state to continue tapping into genetic databases in hopes of identifying suspects in decades-old cold cases.

Friday acknowledged the potential privacy pitfalls involved in the tactic, but found no violations of state or federal law. He concluded that police are free to test DNA that is “abandoned” at a crime scene and compare it against samples submitted to a database by consenting individuals.

Carbo, who is charged with intentional second-degree murder, has not yet filed notice of any defenses he may raise at trial. He remains jailed on $1 million bail.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Chris Florey. Carbo is represented by public defender J.D. Schmid.

Using public genealogy data, in which people submit genetic samples to companies like Ancestry.com and 23andme.com in order to reveal their personal history, is a relatively new tool for law enforcement.

In early 2019, investigators used it to arrest a suspect in the 1993 slaying of Jeanne Ann Childs in Minneapolis.

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Ask Amy: Favorite grandson is the main course at dinner

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Ask Amy: Abusive ex-husband now wants to share cabin

Dear Amy: My grandmother is 91 and lives on her own. Her husband died a year ago.

Although she has a few other grandchildren locally, I have always been her favorite because I was the first grandson.

My mom lives less than a mile away and sees her almost daily, and my grandmother talks to her neighbors, so she isn’t totally isolated.

I am in my 40s and live 20 miles away.

Ever since I learned to drive, my grandmother has asked me to come over for dinner. She often tries to lock me into a date for the next dinner before the one I’m eating is even finished.

This has always been annoying.

Over the years I would jokingly complain about it, but let it go.

This past year, with her living alone, this has gotten worse.

Now she expects me to come at least twice a week and complains if she doesn’t get enough one-on-one time with me.

She also has been complaining that “It has been a while” since she last saw me when it has only been a few days.

I cringe when she calls or texts because I know I’ll be asked to come over for dinner. Then I have to come up with some excuse – or cave.

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