5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Investigates: Judging Justice
There are plenty of court shows on television, and it seems like most of the time the jury finds the defendant guilty.
But is that what happens in real life?
We wanted to find out.
A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation, led by reporter Mark Albert, looked at what percentage of people get acquitted in courthouses across the state and where you live.
Watch our investigation above and use our interactive map as well as watch extended interviews below.
Click on any county below to see the acquittal rates for judges and juries where you live and how they compare to the rest of Minnesota, as well the increase or decrease in felony case filings since 2006 and the percentage of all felony cases in your judicial district that go to trial.
MINNESOTA FELONY CASES 2006-2011
Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch
Click here to view the raw dataset provided by the Minnesota Judicial Branch.
Watch an extended interview with defense attorney Andy Pearson, who noticed a difference in acquittal rates depending on where in Minnesota a defendant lives; "where something happens definitely matters," Pearson said.
Watch an extended interview with retired Hennepin County Judge Pam Alexander, who does not think judges are more lenient, but are called upon in bench trials to decide the closest cases with the toughest legal questions, which may result in a lesser disparity between acquittals and convictions than seen in jury trials.
Watch an extended interview with Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, whose office can boast the lowest acquittal rate of any judicial district in Minnesota since 2006.
Watch an extended interview with Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, who says his office must "take chances" and be "pushing the envelope on probable cause" in the interest of public safety and victims rights.
Watch an extended interview with St. Thomas University School of Law professor Mark Osler who notes that the statewide numbers show that the choices defendants make on whether to go to trial "aren't always rational."