Dakota County Sheriff agrees to stop seizing DNA without a warrant

Contact: Jana Kooren, jkooren@aclu-mn.org, 651-529-1693, 651-485-5925 (cell)

St. Paul, Minn- The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota has settled Emerson v. Leslie, a case it filed earlier this year against Dakota County Sheriff Timothy Leslie to prevent the sheriff from unlawfully seizing DNA from John Emerson.

Sheriff Leslie tried to seize John Emerson’s DNA in 2016 after an arrest, but without a warrant or a conviction in the case. Emerson refused and the ACLU-MN sued on his behalf to prevent the unlawful seizure.

To settle the case, Sheriff Leslie agreed this week to allow the Dakota County District Court to enter an order against him forbidding the illegal DNA collection, and requiring the destruction of previously collected DNA samples.

“This is a win, not just for our client, but for the other people whose DNA was unlawfully collected, and for those whose rights would have been violated in the future” stated Executive Director John Gordon. “Your DNA belongs to you, not to the government. It is your personal property, in some ways the most personal property you have. The Dakota County Sheriff is not above the law, the courts, or the Constitution.  This settlement affirms those principles.”  

“We were so pleased to represent Mr. Emerson in this case,” said lead cooperating lawyer Peter J. Farrell of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP.  “He stood up for his rights and the rights of others in his position, and he wouldn’t back down.  It was a privilege to stand with him.”

Farrell was joined by Jane E. Maschka, Matthew C. Enriquez, and Joshua T. Peterson of the same firm, along with John Gordon and Teresa Nelson of the ACLU-MN.

Read the order for injunction and settlement agreement.