Judge threatens mistrial in Fong Lee case


Day two of the Fong Lee trial apparently started off exactly where it left off — with U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson extremely pissed off. This morning he threatened to declare a mistrial in the civil case and force the attorneys for Lee’s family to cover all costs of the proceeding, according to Rochelle Olson’s excellent play-by-playover at the Star Tribune.

The legal mischief started late yesterday afternoon when attorney Michael Padden, who is representing Lee’s family, flashed a photo of his bullet-riddled corpse on a projection screen in the courtroom. Lee’s family, who were seated in the courtroom, began to audibly sob.

The problem with the grisly picture: it hadn’t been admitted into evidence and therefore shouldn’t have been shown to the jury. Padden claimed it was an innocent mistake.


Judge Magnuson apparently wasn’t buying it. “Let’s be candid,” Magnuson said. “You’ve lost my trust, and you’re going to earn it back. It’s as simple as that.”

Magnuson offered a similar tongue-lashing at the close of yesterday’s proceedings. “To spring something like that is incredible,” Magnuson told Padden, according to the account by David Hanners, who has been relentlessly bird-dogging the case for the Pioneer Press. “And to spring something like that on a jury without it being in evidence is wrong. It’s wrong. It’s just the wrong thing to do.”

The civil suit stems from the 2006 shooting of Lee by Minneapolis police officer Jason Andersen at CityView Performing Arts Magnet school on the city’s North Side. The 19-year-old was shot eight times and died at the scene. The cops insist that Lee was carrying a handgun and that Andersen only fired because he feared for his life. But the attorneys for Lee’s family contend that there was no such gun and that police planted the weapon after the fact to cover up the officer’s fatal mistake.



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