About Jack
JACK IS A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY, FORMER CIA OFFICER, JOURNALIST AND STORYTELLER.   

Jack is a criminal defense attorney, former CIA officer, journalist and storyteller.  As a lawyer, Jack practices exclusively in the areas of criminal defense and DWI/DUI defense.  He is unique across the entire state of Minnesota and the U.S. as the only criminal defense attorney who is also a former Central Intelligence Agency Officer as well as a former prosecuting attorney. Jack's extensive experience, aggressiveness and passion speak for themselves and he is most proud of his reputation as a fighter for the rights of his clients. He has a national reputation and can be seen frequently on MSNBC, Al Jazeera, CNN, and other networks across the country.  He is also a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Contact

JACK RICE, RICE LAW OFFICE

Lake Calhoun Center

3033 Excelsior Boulevard, Suite 550

Minneapolis, MN 55416

Telephone: 612-227-1339

Fax: 612-824-0311

email:  jack@jackrice.org

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Saturday
Jul252015

[RICE LAW OFFICE, P.A.] EDITORIAL - NOT GUILTY MEANS MY OWN REDEMPTION

Redemption.  I’ve always wanted to believe in it.  I’ve always hoped that anybody could come back.  That no matter what they have done, what they’ve seen, they could find a way back.  I don’t know why I needed to believe, but I did.  For a long time, as a criminal defense attorney, I think that it was because it was simply a philosophy I needed to embrace, professionally.  In fact, I now realize that that was bullshit.  I did it for one simple reason.  I needed to believe that I was redeemable.  That I could come back.  That I could believe in myself again.  But to be really honest, because of how life has played out, I've doubted that, until just recently.  

And it came at me at the worst possible time and with a brutal vengeance.

I'm getting ready for another trial and this Courthouse is packed.  However, I have one goal as I walk down a busy hallway with somebody I’ll call Jennifer. I'm trying to understand how her boy, 20 year old Samuel, could be in this place facing a decade in a steel box.  At this point, this is not about me or anybody else, it is about Samuel.  

He is charged with having a gun, a Smith and Wesson 9 mm Ruger to be precise, when he’s a convicted felon.  To be entirely honest, I don’t give a shit whether he had it.  I’m a criminal defense attorney and I just wanna win.  Ever the cynic. Right?  

Jennifer is slight.  She’s small in size but strangely even smaller in presence. Not that she's not a survivor and intelligence but rather, its as if life has punched her straight in the face over and over again and she knows that the next punch is coming any second.  I have to be honest, I'd be worse than she is. I couldn't survive what she has seen.  She's younger than I am but looks much much older.  Her hands are worn from working hard her whole life.  Multiple minimum wage jobs that simply didn't bring in enough.  Unfortunately, the impact of being gone so much had a real cost on the boys which she didn’t have the luxury to quantify at the time.  I see the sadness and fear in her eyes only overshadowed by the regret that she couldn't fix it.  

Jennifer found herself pregnant and 15 with her first son and had Samuel a short 16 months later.  Imagine being 17 with two baby boys.  Poor.  Single.  Homeless.  Helpless.  Thinking you know everything and knowing close to nothing at the very same time.  As if that weren’t enough, the boys' father was shot dead in the street only a couple of years later.  Just in case you thought you weren’t alone, right?  This is Jennifer.  

I’ve seen this story again and again to the point that I’m not always sure when one starts and the other ends.  In fact, in this job, it is really hard to not become calloused and cynical.  We see pain and tragedy and brutality everyday.  It sometimes washes over us and envelopes us in a way that we barely notice, like the mortician who sees a dead child with a toe tag on a cold stainless table and only sees another job to do.  The problem is that it is really hard to leave it at the door so we carry it with us, when we see our own officemates, friends, our own kids, our own spouses.  And slowly, its easy and maybe even reasonable that we establish this strange disconnect and numbness that we use as self protection like some sick M&M candy-coating.  But, it helps us function in this setting.  Right?

As Jennifer and I stand in the crowded hallway, the punch to the head comes at me like so many that Jennifer has taken.  This is my mom.  This woman's view of the world is very similar to how my mom saw her own.  All of a sudden, its not just about looking for an angle, looking for a win.  Rather, its that Samuel deserves redemption.  But something else happens.  I realize that I desperately need it too.  That for so many reasons, I need to fight my way back to a place where I can believe too.  That I can remember who I was before all of this.  This . . . insanity.  I feel the candy-coating starting to crack and crumble.  That my efforts to survive and continue are peeling away and I think about how I’ve changed and what it has cost me, cost my family, for me to do this.  But I’m in the middle of a trial.  Fuck!

I know I have to win. I have to find a way to help her, help Samuel.  I have to sit down with him again and try to really get what the hell is going on here.  I have to.  We need this.  All of us.  Not just Samuel.  I need it.  Me.  

When I’m picking a jury, I'm trying to assess who will see this kid as I see him.  I don't give a shit about justice at this point.  I don't care whether they can balance the facts and come to a just and fair decision.  I look at them like I imagine a surgeon looks at somebody before they start cutting.  I'm trying to strip away the bullshit as I ask questions to find somebody who will see me when they see Samuel. They must. They have to.  Of course, as this is happening, I’m also thinking about stripping away my own bullshit.  Timing has not always been my strong suit.  Shit!  

I look at the spectrum of this jury.  They are quite a crew.  Fro Man, as I call him, on one end. Young, very cool, young with long hair and very hipster-like with the carefully grungy clothes purposely picked to appear haphazardly chosen. Perfect.  On the other, briefcase boy, a middle aged man with short cropped hair with grey streaks who walks in with his briefcase everyday like it is his lucky blanket.  And everybody in between.  So who do I strike?  Who won't believe?  Who won't believe in hope, in second chances, in what the police say just because they say it?  

I'm feeling the desperation grow in me.  I'm surgical still but this one is different.  I need it.  I keep looking back and seeing Jennifer sitting in the gallery.  She won't look me directly in the face as we make eye contact.  She is always looking down slightly and her eyes meet mine at a slight angle, like a wounded animal.  She looks at me with the experience of a world champion boxer's sparring partner who regularly gets their ass kicked.  In other words, nothing is going to change.  Nothing is going to be different.  She's just waiting for the punches and preparing for the pain.  I can feel every punch as I look at her, every brutal scene I’ve experienced doing this and every hole in which I tried to bury it.  This is not good.  I need to focus.    

Opening statements come and the Prosecutor is very workman like.  She’s very balanced.  Very fair.  Very honest.  I hate that.  Juries like it and I have absolutely no interest in that at this point.  I wanna win.  I sneak a peak back and Jennifer is staring at the ground like she is watching something bad that happened years before.  I feel the same, trying to remember exactly when I broke.  When I quit believing.  I feel numb.  I look at my shoes.  And I start to feel angry.  I’m not done.  I can’t be.  I just can’t  I refuse.

I stand for my chance to speak.  I try to say with confidence, “Samuel didn't do it. This cop jumped to the wrong decisions.”  And here's the thing.  After going back in to talk to Samuel, he says a couple of things that just don't make sense based upon the reports and I know these reports cold.  I could quote them.  I've been dreaming about them.  And I know all of the photos too.  And the Prosecutor’s case just isn't adding up.  There is something wrong and I can't seem to figure out what it is.  

As the Prosecutor puts her case in, I'm listening.  What's wrong?  What's wrong?  I keep asking myself.  The photos roll through my head as do the words from all of the statements.  I hear how this one cop sees Samuel with a dark black object that is a gun in his waistband.  How the cop sees the handle and the grip.  On and on and on.  The testimony is devastating and the jury is just eating it up.  Even Fro Man is swallowing it.

Here's the problem.  Its not true.  It didn't happen.  The officer’s incident report is totally different and this cop seems to be adding all of these damning facts as an additional guarantee that Samuel will go down.  I don’t believe him.

I have a strange feeling inside my chest. It scares me. A heart attack?  But then I realize that I’m starting to remember me. But me in the way that I was before this case, and the thousand others like it.  And before the cynicism, the numbness and maybe even the darkness.    

I'm outraged and I take it out on the officer. The jury seems to sit up straighter and listen more carefully as I pound on this guy.  And he starts to represent all of the numbness, the darkness.  As I do this, I feel something down deep in my soul.  Something like hope that both Samuel and I deserve to find our way back.  As I look back at Jennifer, she is sitting up a little straighter too but unsure what to think.  

As the Prosecutor continues, her case seems to deteriorate underneath her.  And slowly, very slowly, I can feel a shift.  I see it in the jury, the demeanor of the prosecutor and even in myself.  It is at this point that I know.  I am this kid.  I know what it is to be without hope.  Without help and that I need redemption.  I need to know that I can come back.  I can be more.  That how I’ve changed isn’t permanent.

I look back at Jennifer.  I see that she sees that I get it.  That I somehow understand her.  That I get Samuel.  That maybe I’m Samuel.  I see a kernel of something there I don't think has been there for a very very long time.  Hope.  Is it her hope or my own?

Closing arguments are crazy.  As I listen to the Prosecutor, she sums up so cleanly that I start to doubt again.  She's very smart if a little cold blooded.  But I'm not done.  I believe.  I do.  I have to.
I get up and give the best damn closing of my life.  I feel like I'm fighting for air.  Like I'm fighting for my mom.  I imagine her sitting in the gallery and I'm fighting for her in a way she has fought for so many years without acknowledgement or credit.  But as I fight for Samuel, I am fighting just as hard for me.  And then I start to see jurors slowly shake their heads with me.  I feel it.  

All of sudden, all of a sudden, I see my mom's eyes in my head.  And I see her smile and my eyes fill with tears.  Tears for Samuel.  Tears for Jennifer.  Tears for my mom.  Tears for myself.

The problem with having lots of empathy and using it in trial is that you sometimes can’t control it.  Sure, you can pour it by the bucketload into the jury box until you hope the jury is floating around in it like its a kid’s blowup pool.  The problem if you’re honest is that it opens you up and cracks that sick candy-coating open and makes you realize the extent of your own disconnect and numbness and what you have morphed yourself into in order to do the job.  Its also makes you realize the impact that it has had on all the people you actually care about until you have no fucking clue who you were or are.  

Sometimes, as criminal defense attorneys, we have to remember the cost, the impact, and that the brutality we experience has a cost and carrying or hiding it is not the answer.  Rather, we have to be conscious of it and hopefully address the realities and maybe find the lightness in life and embrace that for the authenticity that we hopefully all are seeking.  

When the jury comes back after two days with a not guilty, I stare blankly into space.  Samuel throws his arms around me.  I look back at Jennifer.  She stares me straight in the face for the very first time, tears running down her face and I realize I’m weeping too.  And I know without doubt that not only does everybody deserve redemption, but that I do too.

And I finally believe . . . again.

Sunday
Jul122015

[The Jack Rice Show] Jack Interviews Explorer and Adventurer Bethany Sagsveen

We all struggle to find the balance between our obligations and the things the give our lives meaning.  Some people have found that balance.  Bethany Sagsveen is one of them.

Bethany is an explorer and adventurer who has decided to live her life by her own rules.  She's solo hiked the Pacific Coast Trail from Mexico to Canada, more than 2600 miles.  She's also worked as a dog handler during the 13th run of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race in Alaska.  And that only scratches the surface.

This is fascinating.  Hope you will enjoy it.  

Click Here to Listen to Jack's Interview with Bethany

Friday
Jul102015

[The Jack Rice Show] Jack Interviews Author and Storyteller Rose McGee

This is a particualrly fascinating interview with consummate auther and storyteller Rose McGee.  I didn't see this coming. She knows how to spin a yarn but I was shocked by the fact that in many ways, she is a walking history lesson.  Growing up in the South, she talks about being taken out of school and forced to work in the fields and about being marginalized and the impact this has on a child.

She also talking about her latest project, the Sweet Potato Comfort Pie Project.  This is a pretty amazing project in its own right.

So, strap in, and listen to this really amazing interview. 

Click here to listen to Jack's Interview with Rose McGee

Friday
May292015

[The Jack Rice Show] Jack Interviews the Parents of a Boy Killed in St Paul Mudslide about Building a School in Africa

Click here to Listen to Part 1 of this Podcast.

Click here to Listen to Part 2 of this Podcast.

Lancine and Madosu Fofana received the phone call that is every parent's nightmare.  There was an accident and their son Mohamed was missing.  

On May 22, 2013, two fourth grade classes from Peter Hobert Elementary School in St. Louis Park took a field trip to Lilydale Regional Park in St. Paul.  As the children searched for fossils, the earth gave way burying the group in four feet of mud, sand and rocks on a Mississippi River bluff.  Two were killed, including Mohamed Fofana.    

While many people would have just given up and quit, the Fofanas were determined to do something in his memory.  They decided to fulfill their son's life wish to build a school for poor kids in West Africa.  

If you would like to contribute to the building of this new school in Siguiri, Guinea, go to Barnraisings.com.  

Click here to Listen to Part 1 of this Podcast.  

Click here to Listen to Part 2 of this Podcast.

Wednesday
May202015

[MSNBC] Tuesday, May 20th - Jack Talk U.S. Release of Bin Laden Docs

I appear on MSNC on May 20th at 6:00 p.m. eastern time to discuss the release of a bunch fo documents recovered during the raid of Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. It is interesting as it highlights how much he and the organization knew but also about how their desires were, and were not, being carried out around the rest of the world. 

I think that this is going to be a really interesting conversation. Hope you can join me.

Wednesday
May132015

[Russian TV - Moscow] Thursday, May 13th - Jack Talks the U.S. Drug War Failure in Afghanistan

I appear on Russian TV Moscow on May 13th to talk about the U.S. and Western policies to eradicate opium in Afghanistan. The Americans claimed that this was one of their major efforts and this has been a cataclysmic failure.  Poppy cultivation and opium production is still the major industry in the country.  So why did the Americans failure so dismally?  What are the ramifications of this failure?

This should be a really interesting conversation.  I hope that you can catch it.

Tuesday
May122015

[The Jack Rice Show] Wednesday, May 13th, Jack Talks Equal Rights for Woman

MN Equal Right Amendment appears before the MN Senate tomorrow for the first time since 1973. I will be doing morning drive on Am 950 tomorrow morning from 6-8 a.m. and this is one of the issues I will focus upon. Is it necessary? Required? Pointless? I'll have experts and your calls. Join me. 952-946-6205

Saturday
May022015

[Rice Law Office, P.A.] Editorial - Rape Case Dismissal Comes with a Price Tag

We stand just outside of a courtroom in the hallway of a courthouse somewhere in the Midwest.  We are silent for a few seconds as he just looks at me, bewildered.  And then with speed and intensity that surprises me, he just throws himself at me.  He throws his arms around my neck and just . . . weeps.  Not silent tears like you get in a movie theater.  I mean the kind of weeping you get when you really really mean it.  His voice breaks and he keeps repeating unintelligible things into my chest as the tears continue to fall and his whole body just convulses.  

I immediately look down the hall, noticing that it is packed with people who all immediately stop doing whatever it is they are doing and look at us.  I try to imagine what these people see or think.  Two big guys in an embrace outside of a courtroom.  Me, in my typical black suit looking as always the stereotypical criminal defense attorney. Whatever. They don't see the tattoos, scars or just plain mileage.  My client, a button down shirt and pants barely large enough to cover his obvious size and strength, and yet, falling to pieces, vulnerable. And what I do next is the only thing I can imagine.  I throw my arms around this man, my client and pull him in. Put my hand on the back of his head and just squeeze.  I don't give a shit what these people think.  

How we got to this place is still an odyssey that I'm trying to figure out.  I received a call from another attorney who'd received a call from this man's family about this very difficult rape case.  For some reason, the attorney couldn't or wouldn't take it but referred it to me. I was on vacation in California when the call came through. As I listented to the facts and allegations on my phone, I looked around at my family jumping around the car.  What a weird juxtaposition that was. They laugh and jump as I listen to the facts and quickly try to organize my thoughts. 

Upon my return to Minnesota, I have the family come into the office to talk.  We talk about this nightmare and what they, no, what we can do about it.  And from the beginning, things just don't add up. There is just something here that doesn't make sense. Just doesn't seem to fit.

They know each other. They are out drinking with a bunch of other people. They end up in an apartment together with those same people. They clearly have sexual contact. But, that's when the stories diverge. Further, this woman's statements and claims strike me as not only inconsistent with statements given by others but also inconsistent with other statements she herself gives.  After all, facts are facts and some things just don't change.

Over the next year, we are in and out of court a half a dozen times and the ramifications of him being convicted just seem to get worse and worse.  He is looking at years and years in prison.  It might as well be forever from his perspetive. It isn't just the prison or the fact that his family will be destitute. There is something else too, the sexual predator registration requirement for anybody convicted of anything rolling out of a criminal sexual conduct conviction.  This will dog him for the rest of his life and he knows it and so does his family.  

Throughout the year, one interesting thing does stay consistent however. My client stands by his story.  I didn't rape her.  I didn't!

As the fight continues, the pressure to win increases along the way.  When I was a prosecutor years ago, you fight for the amorphous "state."  As a defense attorney, you are in the trenches and are surrounded by your people, those accused and the families and children who wave goodbye to their fathers and mothers, sisters, brothers, etc. who go to prison if you lose.  So, it becomes very very personal, or at least it does for me.

On the day of trial, I'm ready.  I've lived with this case for so long.  I've tried to contemplate every angle. I know every objective fact and every subjectve statement. I know what kind of jurrors I want. I know the world that I want to build for them in opening statements. I know how I want them to feel. And now it is the time.

The jury has been brought up and we are ready to go.  I've tried a lot of cases but this one feels a lot more personal to me.  And with all of the time that I have spent, there is still something about the claims made, the statements given, and just my belief in the human experience, that tells me that there is still something wrong here, that this just did not happen.

We end up in the Judge's chambers. Me, the prosecutor and the judge. Damn, when did I get so old?  I'm older than both of these people. Shit.  

And then the prosecutor drops her bomb.  She has witness issues.  Oh boy.  It changes everything.  As a former prosecutor, I rememeber trying to convict people of crimes without the cooperation of the complaining witness, the victim,  It is damn near impossible.  And in a date rape case where it is a he said, she said circumstance, its insane. 

At this point the prosecutor knows she's lost, sort of.  She can't really move forward today but she always has the option to dismiss and then recharge.  They generally hate doing this but it has certainly happened to me and to others as well.  My concern in that the complaining witness/victim could always change her mind and we may likely be back in the position.

So, the offers from the prosecutor start coming.  Instead of the years and years in prison, we can amend the charges down to a lesser felony and no jail time.  This sounds great considering what my client faces but if you are innocent, it may not be enough.  Also, the charge would still require registration as a sex offender.  So, he's screwed for future jobs, current job, apartments or anything else of value.  My client says no.  Gutsy, I think!  

The prosecutor offers an even better deal, no jail and a gross misdemeanor.  However, the registration requirement continues.  Nope.  Aint gonna happen. Wow, I say under my breath.  

So I say, "let's try the case."  We get ready to stand up and pick a jury.  Hell, I'm ready anyway.  

Then the prosecutor takes it a step further. "I'll just dismiss and come back again and recharge."  Damn.  I don't want this because I know its possible.  So, I suggest something else.  How about a continuance for dismissal?  The advantages to this are that it is not an admission, it requires no registation, it is not a conviction and ultimately the case is completely dismissed. And, most importantly, it locks in the prosecutor into a deal so that they can't possibility recharge and prosecute my client again.  To my surprise, the prosecutor agrees.  

I sit with my client and lay out his options slowly and as clearly as a can.  He looks like he's getting every third word. I can't blame him.  If it were me, I'd probably be worse.  So, I do it again. And again until his head clears. He likes it and wants to take it despite his continued claims of innocence. Remember, he is admitting nothing.

As we go on the record in the courtroom and I lay out the deal for the court, I keep looking at my client.  He looks confused, stunned, angry, sad all combined.  As I finish putting everything on the record and he agrees, I grab my client and turn him and and push through the double doors into the hall where he stares at me. Where everybody seems to be staring. Right where I started this story.

Coming down the elevator, my client refuses to wipe the tears from his face.  Trust me, nobody would say a word about them regardless.  As we are about to separate, he throws himself at me one more time.  I whisper in his ear, "Go home.  Kiss your family."  The words catch in my throat.  Now its me shaking.

Walking to my car, I feel numb. I realize that I'm breathing hard and that my face is wet.  I can't seem to stop the tears this time. I stand there as people walk by and look away uncomfortably not wanting to see but watching despite it. I don't even care.  

This is the nature of doing a job like this. Its real life. Its really hard. Its visceral and if you are going to fight the fight, then you better be prepared for the costs, emotional or otherwise. So, I wipe my face, pick up my bag, and know that while what I do is not rocket science, and I'm not changing the world, I did one little thing for one person and his family on this day.

At least for right now, that has to be good enough for me. 

Saturday
May022015

[The Jack Rice Show] Jack Interviews A Boy Fighting the Nazis

Listen to Jack's Interview with Julian Kulski.

This is one of the more extraordinary individuals I have interviewed in a very long time.  Julian Kulski's father was the Deputy Mayor of Warsaw, Poland on September 1, 1939.  And soon enough, after the Mayor is murdered, Julian's father becomes Mayor and Julian joined the Polish underground and started fighting against the Nazis.  This is absolutely unbelieivable.  You can read his biography in The Color of Courage.

Listen to Jack's Interview with Julian Kulski.

 

 

Saturday
May022015

[The Jack Rice Show] Jack Interviews Ayman Oghanna in Istanbul, Turkey about ISIS

Listen to Jack's Interview with Ayman

Ayman Oghanna wrote an amazing piece entitled A Child Called Tragedy: Iraqi Identity in Crisis. for Al Jazeera. Ayman looks deep into the region and explains it in ways that I have rarely seen.  Check out the piece and listen to this really interesting journalist.

I enjoyed this conversation very much.  By the way, Ayman joins me from Istanbul and you can occasionally here his child playing in the background.  I love that.  

Listen to Jack's Interview with Ayman