Erlinder barred again from representing client


After attorney Peter Erlinder was thrown out of a courtroom Monday, the St. Paul law professor made another appeal to Minnesota’s chief federal district judge seeking to represent his client for pretrial release.

U.S. Chief District Judge Michael Davis responded today: Nope.

Erlinder wrote a letter Tuesday apologizing to Davis for “improperly” trying to address the judge Monday at a pretrial court hearing. The William Mitchell law professor is not admitted to practice law in Minnesota because he never took the bar exam in this state. He has sought permission several times to defend clients — and was denied several times — as recently as 2009 in the case of terror suspect Mohamed Warsame.

In an email to MPR News, Erlinder points out that he has practiced law on occasion in Minnesota’s federal courtrooms over the past 20 years:

“Seeking admission to the Minnesota State Bar to appear in Federal court every 3-5 years seemed unnecessary, but I may have to tre-think (sic) that conclusion if I have any cases in Minnesota District Court.”

His current client, Mahamud Said Omar, is accused of helping outfit several Twin Cities men for their trips to Somalia, allegedly to fight with the extremist group al-Shabab. Omar’s family contends he suffers from mental disorders and is not capable of aiding terrorists.

Erlinder agrees that Omar lacks the mental faculties to make decisions on his behalf, and says Omar fired his Dutch attorney and essentially gave up fighting extradition.

Perhaps better known for his detention in Rwanda last year, Erlinder is allowed to practice law in his home state of Illinois as well as other federal and appellate courts.

While not naming Erlinder specifically, Judge Davis issued an order today saying he “will not entertain any motion or request of said attorney” until the lawyer complies with the requirements to participate in a criminal case before the court.

(Photo by Laura Yuen)

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