Tom Dunnwald in the news!

February 18th, 2011

Just the kind of press we all love, getting ejected from a hearing for calling the other side on their “crap.” In a criminal case, the prosecutor is required to turn over everything they’ve got against the defendant. The prosecutor hasn’t, and yet the judge seems to think it’s OK to go forward without it, and that it’s a problem to object.  EH???? So there’s Tom, defending his client and their right to get the info, and the judge is telling him to shut up.  AND THEN THE PHONE RINGS!!!  Oh great… (hope the phone tune was a good one!)

Back at Clean Water Action, I learned from exchanging spitballs in board meetings that Dunnwald has an attitude a lot like mine, and he’s had some great legal successes in the shit-strewn land use area of feedlots. And he represented my buddy Victor in the Northfield shit-storm mess.  Yes, there’s a theme.  And he’s one of the few attorneys I’d recommend.  That’s Tom Dunnwald, partner of the equally talented Sonja Peterson, hence Dunnwald & Peterson!


Here’s the article about yesterday’s hearing, it was copied in the STrib.


Attorney’s outburst halts hearing

February 17, 2011

By Dan Nienaber The Mankato Free Press
Thu Feb 17, 2011, 08:20 PM CST

MANKATO — A court hearing scheduled for an alleged drug dealer came to a quick end Thursday when his attorney was kicked out of the courtroom.

It didn’t take long for tension to build during the hearing for 32-year-old Cedric Lamont Berry. He is facing racketeering and drug charges for allegedly using gang connections to sell cocaine in Mankato. He was one of several people arrested after a Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force investigation last fall.

District Court Judge Kurt Johnson showed his first sign of irritation when Berry’s attorney, Thomas Dunnwald, said he wasn’t ready to argue his motion. Dunnwald said he wasn’t getting the evidence he needed from Chris Rovney, assistant Blue Earth County attorney.

A task force report was short dozens of pages that had been turned over to attorneys working for other defendants in the case, Dunnwald said. He also said he was waiting for a recorded interview Berry had with Hennepin County investigators, which took place after Berry’s arrest in Minneapolis.

Dunnwald’s argument came to an abrupt halt when his cell phone received a call. And Johnson just stared as the phone played its tune. After fumbling through his jacket pocket for a few seconds, Dunnwald eventually silenced the digital music.

Things got worse after Johnson asked Rovney to explain why Dunnwald hadn’t been given the information he needed. Rovney was explaining that the recording, which allegedly includes Berry saying he can sell large amounts of cocaine, isn’t clear. Rovney said he would provide a copy of the DVD after the sound is enhanced.

“The defendant is a mumbler,” Rovney said.

Dunnwald stood up, waived his arm toward Rovney and barked at Johnson.

“This is utter crap,” he said. “Never in court have I seen this.”

As a bailiff made his way toward the attorney, Johnson told him to calm down.

“Mr. Dunnwald, sit down and be quiet or I will have a bailiff remove you,” Johnson said.

Dunnwald said he would remove himself. Johnson said he should.

“Are you ordering me out?”

“I’m ordering you out. Go ahead.”

Once Dunnwald was gone, Johnson told Rovney to turn over a copy of the recording as soon as possible. Rovney said this isn’t the first time the two attorneys have butted heads while on opposite sides of a case.

Johnson said they needed to find a way to get along before ending the hearing.

“It’s not Mr. Berry’s fault that you two don’t get along,” he said.

Gro Wind south of Northfield

November 29th, 2010

Right now, the Northfield Planning Commission is reviewing the idea of the Spring Creek LLC wind turbine planned for the Northfield Urban Reserve district.  Here’s some on that from Tracy Davis:

Wind Turbines in the “Urban Reserve” around Northfield

In another exciting development, Tom Dunnwald filed for a Writ of Mandamus, to tell Rice County to follow the law, and damned if he didn’t get it!  In this case, the County didn’t provide proper notice for the Conditional Use hearing, and they have to do it over.

This is the same county where I had a laundry list of instances where they had not followed the law and the judge said, “They know they should follow the law so I’m not going to tell them to follow the law” and tossed us out.  So perhaps Mandamus is the way to go rather than a Declaratory Judgment?!?!  Go figure…

Here’s the poop from the Northfield News:

Mandamus trips up wind turbine development


Posted: Friday, November 26, 2010 9:17 pm

Rice County officials have been ordered to re-notify residents in Northfield Township of a public hearing on the proposal to build two wind turbines in the area.

A county judge ordered a writ of mandamus earlier this month, which could force Rice County officials to re-notify dozens of individuals affected by the proposed construction of wind turbines in Northfield Township — and delay any county action on turbine construction approval.

Relatively rare in the course of legal proceedings, mandamuses are “[I]ssued by a superior court to compel a lower court or a government officer to perform mandatory or purely ministerial duties correctly,” according to Black’s Law Dictionary.

Gro Wind LLC is trying to move forward with a pair of 326-foot-tall commercial wind turbines, slated to be built in the southeastern corner of Northfield Township. The approval of conditional use permits for the agriculturally zoned land has been postponed due to legal action taken by several residents.

Similar to an injunction, the mandamus forces Rice County officials to send out individual notices to properties near the proposed site, notices that residents in the area say they did not receive within the legal time frame.

The judge issues a mandamus after a evaluating the “clear intent” of a law that a governmental body needs to uphold, said Tom Dunnwald, an attorney representing one of the residents in Northfield Township. In this case, the issue was the notification of local residents about a public hearing.

The county is required to notify residences of public hearings regarding certain high-impact projects 10 days before they occur. The county put a notification in the paper, but some residents were not notified by mail until three days before the hearing, Dunnwald said.

One individual in the area did not get their notice in time due to improper postage on the notification, said Rice County Commissioner Galen Malecha.

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