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Lynette Kalsnes,, c: 612-270-8531

February 23, 2024

ACLU-MN attorneys and pro bono partners received "Attorneys of the Year" awards from Minnesota Lawyer. Their work on two ACLU-MN legal cases was honored: Schroeder et al. v. Minnesota Secretary of State and Parada v. Anoka County. 

“Attorneys of the Year represents the top legal achievements from the previous year," said Bill Gaier, publisher of Minnesota Lawyer. "Success in the courtroom and in the community. Each year, I am reminded of the dedication these attorneys have to their craft and their communities. Not only are they great at their work, but they give freely of their time and talents. We are proud to celebrate each of these incredible honorees.”  

Schroeder et al. v. Minnesota Secretary of State was filed after years of stalled legislative efforts to restore voting rights to Minnesotans on felony probation and parole and lead to legislation restoring the voting rights of more than 55,000 Minnesotans living in the community on felony probation or parole. 

The ACLU-MN and pro bono partner Faegre Drinker sued under the Minnesota Constitution, arguing the state’s disenfranchisement of Minnesotans on felony probation and parole violated their fundamental right to vote as well as equal protection given the significant racial impacts.  

Ultimately, the courts affirmed that the Legislature had the power to restore voting rights to people on felony probation and parole. "The combination of litigation and advocacy ultimately prevailed," said ACLU-MN Attorney David McKinney. "Days after the Minnesota Supreme Court decided that the Legislature has this authority, the Legislature passed legislation broadly restoring voting rights."  

Governor Walz called the legislation "the most significant expansion of voting rights in Minnesota in a half-century." The result was the culmination of years of activism, organizing, and perhaps, most importantly, litigation. 

The Schroeder team consisted of:  

  • David P. McKinney, ACLU of Minnesota  
  • Teresa J. Nelson, ACLU of Minnesota 
  • Craig S. Coleman, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP 
  • Jeffrey P. Justman, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP 
  • Kirsten L. Elfstrand, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP 
  • Thomas K. Pryor, Mitchelle Hamline School of Law 

Parada v. Anoka County set a groundbreaking precedent on national-origin discrimination.  

Myriam Parada was rear-ended while driving her siblings home from a family birthday party. Instead of ticketing the other driver who had a record of driving violations and who caused the accident, police took Parada to jail for driving without a license. During booking, Anoka County deputies followed the department’s unwritten policy of contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement about every foreign-born person booked into the jail. The county put Parada, who was born in Mexico, through additional steps to slow-walk her release while they waited to hear back from ICE. Then instead of releasing her, they turned her over to ICE. 

The District Court found that Anoka County’s policy was unconstitutional, and a jury awarded Myriam Parada $30,000 for false imprisonment. The ACLU-MN then successfully fought Anoka County’s appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The ruling stated that Anoka County’s policy was a “classic example of national-origin discrimination” and that the jail’s unwritten policy of adding steps to the booking process for anyone born outside the U.S.— regardless of citizenship or immigration status — violated the 14th Amendment right to equal protection. 

“Jails are committing false imprisonment when they unlawfully hold people for ICE and waste taxpayer money,” said ACLU-MN staff attorney Ian Bratlie. “We hope jails get the message that no matter where people are born, officials must respect the U.S. Constitution and individual rights.” 

The Parada team consisted of:  

  • Ian Bratlie, ACLU of Minnesota 
  • Teresa Nelson ACLU of Minnesota 
  • Isabella Salomão Nascimento, formerly of the ACLU of Minnesota, Ballard Spahr LLP 
  • Clare Diegel, formerly of the ACLU of Minnesota, Hennepin County Attorney’s Office 
  • Amanda Cefalu, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c. 
  • The late Alain Baudry, Saul Ewing LLP 

The ACLU of Minnesota thanks and congratulates these attorneys for their work to protect the civil rights of all Minnesotans.