County Attorney, Tim Scannell, and a trial witness are the shooting victims of a courthouse shooting occurring this afternoon at the Cook County courthouse in Grand Marais, MN. Fortunately, it appears both will recover from their injuries.
The shooting took place at the end of the day after a jury found Daniel Schlienz, the alleged shooter, guilty of 3rd degree criminal sexual conduct charges. Schlienz was taken into custody and is expected to be charged.
There is a lengthy history between Schlienz and Scannell. The current case was being tried after the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the District Court’s denial of Schlienz’s motion to withdraw his plea. The Court found that the sentencing judge conducted improper ex parte communications with Scannell. Specifically, the sentencing judge had improperly informed Scannell of specific arguments that should be made to oppose any motion to withdraw the guilty plea.
Then, in 2011, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed Schlienz’s conviction because the district court sentenced Schlienz in excess of what the prosecutor and Schlienz had agreed to during plea negotiations.
The Cook County courthouse lacks the security and metal detectors present in many other courthouses in the state. The last courthouse shooting in Minnesota that comes to mind occurred in 2003 at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis. That shooting prompted heightened security in courthouses across Minnesota, including reconfiguring access to courtrooms at the Hennepin County Government Center to accommodate x-ray machines and metal detectors.