Caryn Sullivan: Tad Jude on making crime illegal again

A Hennepin County taxpayer for decades, Jude's public service runs deep.

Tad Jude talks with supporters during a March 31 debate in Plymouth, Minn. (Alpha News)

This past weekend, a three-year old was shot in north Minneapolis; video captured a shootout at the University of Minnesota; and the Minneapolis Police Department reported the city’s 39th homicide of 2022.

Just another weekend in Minneapolis, once touted by Forbes Magazine as a top place to live in the United States.

Tad Jude has had enough of it. It’s time to make crime illegal again, he says, which is why he’s running for Hennepin County attorney.

If elected, Jude plans to hold violent offenders responsible for their actions and to make decisions based on behavior, not skin color, gender, age, or religious beliefs.

A Hennepin County taxpayer for decades, Jude’s public service runs deep. He’s been a Hennepin County commissioner. He served as a legislator in both the Minnesota House and Senate. He spent a decade as a district court judge.

So, he understands the roles the various branches of government play.

Other elected officials make policy, he says. As county attorney, he would take an oath to abide by the Constitution and enforce the policy and laws of Minnesota based on the facts.

“We have prosecutorial discretion,” he says, but “we don’t have discretion to ignore the law or the facts. That’s something I would bear in mind all the time. That’s the oath I would take.”

He offers the prosecution of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter as an example of how not to do the job.

“The Kim Potter case is a tragedy on many levels,” he says, “but the way it was handled by the Hennepin County attorney and the attorney general does not speak well for our criminal justice system.” The handling of the case, from charging to prosecution, seemed to be based more on politics than the facts, law, and Constitution, he says.

As county attorney, he would take politics out of the equation. He’s not afraid of protesters — he’s had them before — at home and at the office.

However, he is concerned about what’s happening when individuals are arrested. Carjackers are being released without bail — only to repeat the offense. The county jail is operating at a reduced capacity — by design. People are fed up, he says.

With Mike Freeman retiring after 24 years, Jude is one of seven seeking to replace him. The top two finishers in the Aug. 9 primary will face off in the Nov. 8 general election.

Though it is a nonpartisan position, the DFL Party and Rep. Ilhan Omar have endorsed Mary Moriarty. Moriarty spent decades defending criminals in the public defender’s office before she ran it.

Jude notes, “I can’t imagine Hennepin County is going to elect an obviously zealous public defender as our county attorney. It just doesn’t fit. It isn’t the same job.”

Why is he running?

“I’ve been encouraged to run because people wanted a public safety choice and they’re not happy with candidates who would twist or contort our criminal justice system. I believe that’s what we’re facing here in Hennepin County — a twisting and contortion of our public safety — and, unfortunately, it’s the children and the people who want to go to school or a park or the grocery store who pay a high price when you contort the public safety system.”

He cites the victims: eight children 10 and under in the past year, primarily in the minority community, who he says are paying a high price.

“It should be as safe to live in north Minneapolis as it is to live in Medina. You should have the same ability to go to school and get groceries in north Minneapolis as in Dayton, Rogers, or Maple Grove.”

That’s what he intends to accomplish if he gets the job.