A Minnesota judge has issued a stern challenge to prosecutors: Give me the names of the victims in four criminal cases, or I’m going to dismiss them, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press. All parties agree that neither names of juveniles nor those of sex-crime victims should be made public in a criminal complaint, but Judge Margaret Marrinan is asking the county attorney’s office to justify withholding the names of other victims – such as someone whose car has been stolen. “I’m all for protecting victims, but I don’t know what’s driving this,” Marrinan said. “I’m just really outraged.”
The complaint is an important document, because it asks the judge to find “probable cause” the defendant committed the crime. If there is not probable cause in the judge’s view, the case dies. Four cases came before Marrinan with the victims listed only by their initials. She dismissed all four. “If you choose not to indicate publicly who the alleged victims of these cases are, you are denying the defense the opportunity to have the complaint stated with particularity,” Marrinan said. “You are also attempting to avoid giving this information to the public and to the press. I will not be played with here. Initials do not cut it.” Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner said her office generally keeps the names of victims out of complaints to protect their privacy and safety.