Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman & Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Ben Schweigert honored by MCAA

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Congratulations to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Ben Schweigert who received awards from the Minnesota County Attorneys Association at its annual meeting on December 8.

Freeman was presented with the Award of Excellence, which honors an individual who has engaged in activities that show a high level of dedication, professionalism, and commitment to public service and the public practice of law by demonstrating extraordinary leadership, initiative, or innovation in the performance of their duties.

MCAA acknowledged that Freeman’s dedication and commitment to public service has always been clear, but the Association wanted to recognize and highlight the extraordinary effort he put forth in the case involving the tragic shooting death of Jamar Clark. His decision to forego the use of a grand jury in this case to insure greater transparency in the decision-making process was a courageous one that was handled with the utmost professionalism. He extensively researched the law surrounding use of grand juries in Minnesota, consulted with many of his colleagues for their input and made a concerted effort to convey to the public why he believed his decision was the right one for Hennepin County.

Freeman worked to ensure that all significant investigative data associated with this case was immediately available to the public when he announced his decision not to pursue any criminal charges against the two Minneapolis police officers involved in Jamar Clark’s death, which was unprecedented. He helped residents in his community and others across our state and nation more clearly understand the factual basis for his decision and the law associated with the justified use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer in Minnesota. Transparency in the decision-making process in high profile cases in this nature is extremely important and Freeman demonstrated significant innovation utilizing today’s technology advances in making the rationale behind this important and difficult decision as immediately transparent as possible.

Ben Schweigert received the MCAA Meritorious Service Award, which recognizes an individual who has demonstrated leadership in her/his office, or has served in key roles in the MCAA governance structure to advance the goals of MCAA.  

He was honored for his hard work and dedication helping the Association secure passage of important drug sentencing reform legislation, which was a priority for the 2016 session.

Deputy Hennepin County Attorney David Brown told MCAA that “Schweigert’s strong intellect, creativity, and commitment to justice make him an exceptional advocate in the courtroom and at the legislature. Ben has quickly developed a reputation as someone who is able to take on tough issues and work collaboratively to find solutions. We are proud of the work that he has accomplished.”

MCAA Executive Director Robert Small had this to say: “The drug sentencing reform legislation is one of the most important items of legislation that MCAA has been able to help secure the passage of in recent decades. This successful outcome could not have been obtained without the hard work and dedication of Ben Schweigert.”