Justice Paul Thissen of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

In a preview of the virtual town hall he held yesterday for the Alexandria and Morris area, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul Thessin told the KMRS Community Connection that institutional racism in the judicial system is something that needs to be addressed.

“I do think that there is in the history that our courts have come out of, a legacy of racism and that’s kind of what institutional racism ultimately is,” said Thissen. “And there are outcomes in our court system in general that are hard to explain if race is not taken into account. So I do think it’s an issue we need to seriously adjust.”

Thessin noted that there are also gender issues embedded in the system that also need addressing. He said judges can be more careful with how they give jury instructions, the courts can seek to make juries more representative, and there is new science about identifying eyewitnesses. It’s hard for people to make identifications cross-racially, he noted, and that research can be taken into consideration. Justice Thissen’s website will have a recording of Sunday’s Town Hall.

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