Attorney wants to move Jouppi trial | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

Richard%20JouppiPublished January 11, 2013, 12:00 AM

Attorney wants to move Jouppi trial

The attorney for a Duluth police officer accused of assaulting an intoxicated man in a wheelchair said Thursday that his client has been terminated by his department and he has filed a motion to move the officer’s trial to another part of Minnesota.

By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune

The attorney for a Duluth police officer accused of assaulting an intoxicated man in a wheelchair said Thursday that his client has been terminated by his department and he has filed a motion to move the officer’s trial to another part of Minnesota.

However, the police department said Officer Richard Jouppi remains on unpaid administrative leave, and the police union said that no final discipline has been dispensed and it remains involved in the officer’s case.

Jouppi is charged with fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct in the Sept. 21 incident at the Duluth Detoxification Center. Jouppi is accused of striking Anthony Jackson, 50, multiple times after Jackson first struck him.

Both crimes are misdemeanors, each punishable by a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

A pretrial hearing scheduled for Thursday in State District Court in Duluth was postponed until Feb. 21 when defense attorney Frederic Bruno said he expects to make his argument that the trial be moved from Duluth because of extensive prejudicial pretrial news coverage here.

In his written motion, Bruno said a Google search for “Richard Jouppi” generated more than 47,000 results. He said numerous websites provided links to the video of the alleged assault, allowing the jury pool advance opportunity to view potential evidence.

The motion said Jouppi and the alleged assault are featured on the public website, which concludes that Jouppi “initiated the physical encounter and then used an uncalled for amount of force” and suggested that Jouppi was “acting terroristic.”

Bruno’s motion also stated that a number of public petitions and groups have been created calling for the termination of Jouppi’s employment and for his conviction. Outside the courtroom, Bruno said Twin Cities’ area courthouses in Dakota County and Washington County could be potential trial sites, but said he hadn’t yet decided what courthouses he would recommend to the court.

Special prosecutor Shawn Reed filed a memorandum in opposition. Reed referred to a rule of criminal procedure that states that “whenever a significant possibility exists of exposure to prejudicial material, the examination of each (prospective) juror … must take place outside the presence of other prospective jurors.”

Reed wrote that that measure would help limit exposure to any potential prejudicial pretrial publicity.

So what is Jouppi’s actual status with the police department?

Data practice law and the police union contract prohibit the police department from talking about the conclusions of its internal investigation until final disposition of discipline.

“He remains, by definition, ‘a city of Duluth employee,’ ” police spokesman Jim Hansen said of Jouppi. “He remains on unpaid administrative leave. No final disposition has been reached. It continues to be our intent not to have Officer Jouppi ever again work for the Duluth Police Department.”

Police Union President Tom Maida said Thursday that there is no final discipline yet and the union remains involved in the case. He declined further comment.

Jouppi could not be reached for comment.

Ricky DeFoe, a member of the American Indian and Human Rights commissions, was in the courtroom and expressed disappointment that Thursday’s hearing was postponed.

“Delayed justice is no justice for the people,” Defoe said. “We’re here to try to create some transparency if we can for the people.”

Defoe said that Jackson, an enrolled member of the White Earth band of Minnesota Chippewa, is doing well after the alleged assault.

Jouppi, a Duluth Central graduate, served with the Omaha (Neb.) Police Department from November 2001 to February 2008, and he worked for the St. Paul Police Department from March 2008 to January 2010. He joined the Duluth force in January 2010.

Jouppi is accused of assaulting Anthony Jon Jackson, 50, a resident of the San Marco Apartments in downtown Duluth. The San Marco offers permanent housing for chemically dependent individuals and for people who have experienced chronic homelessness.

Jouppi and another officer were initially dispatched to the apartments at 10:09 p.m. Sept. 21. About 10:50 p.m., a surveillance video at the Detoxification Center appears to show Jackson swiping his hand into Jouppi’s face and the officer responding with several punches before tipping the wheelchair over with Jackson in it. Jouppi wore a back brace.

The criminal complaint against Jouppi said he threw five closed-fist punches to Jackson’s head and face.

Personnel records indicate that on March 12, he and the city reached a “Final and Last Chance Agreement” in which he signed a document that included the language: “Any future acts or omissions which violate public trust and/or violate (police policy) will be deemed an act of gross insubordination justifying termination.”

Jouppi was one of four Omaha police officers honored for bravery and lifesaving in 2005 for risking their lives to rescue a family from a burning home. He has not received any honors or awards while a Duluth officer.

Attorney wants to move Jouppi trial | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

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