Minn. court tosses law barring false accusations against police

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Court of Appeals has struck down a state law against making false statements that allege police misconduct.

In a 2-1 ruling yesterday, a three-judge panel said the law was unconstitutional on free-speech grounds because it “criminalizes knowingly making false statements that allege police misconduct, but not knowingly making false statements to absolve police.”

That kind of discrimination, the panel said, is not allowed under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1992 ruling in R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul.

“The government cannot pick and choose which falsehoods to prohibit so as to criminalize certain false statements but not others based on the content of the speech or viewpoint of the speaker,” the panel said.

The case involved a woman convicted of falsely claiming a Winona police officer forged her signature to obtain her medical records while investigating her claim she had been assaulted by another person.

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