With cameras in court, a firsthand look at justice, Minnesota style

Over the years, there’s been a lot of kvetching among the upper crust of the judiciary over the possibility that Minnesotans will be able to see their justice system at work.

“There will be unfair coverage with or without cameras,” then Supreme Court Justice Alan Page wrote in 2015, dissenting from a move to relax the restrictions by the Minnesota Supreme Court. “But the judiciary shouldn’t play a role in facilitating such coverage.”

But what about the fair coverage?

Over the summer, the Supreme Court made cameras in the courtroom a permanent policy and on Wednesday we got to see that while words in a newspaper are meaningful, we cannot turn away from the reality — the pain — that is captured by the visual.

In a courtroom Wednesday, we got to see and hear what happens when two young lives are snuffed out by a driver, and how the system of plea bargains allows people to skate on the punishment.

Rachel Kayl got 10 years’ probation and a year in the county workhouse for killing two Mounds View High School students when she collided with their car while driving 80 mph in December 2016.

She got off light.

“I see no signs of remorse or sorrow for the accident she caused,” Steven Carlson, the dad of one of the dead teens said at Kayl’s sentencing. “No family should have to go through this hell.”

Kayl won’t have to turn herself in for another year, after her doctors said they have concerns about whether her medical needs can be attended to properly in jail.

“I struggle every day and wonder why I am here and they are not,” she said after hearing from the friends and family of the people she killed. “I accept every hardship I endure.”

  • MrE85

    This crash happened on the route my wife uses to get to work every day. That was on my mind, along with the loss of those two kids, for a long time.

  • Barton

    I again wonder why are laws on killing someone while you are behind the wheel are so lenient. Her choice to speed had a consequence: her sentence seems to say (to me) that it’s not so bad because she was in a vehicle at the time so really it was more an “accident” than a consequence.

    • QuietBlue

      I agree with you, but her sentence was light due to it being a plea deal. Her attorney pushed for a trial, but I have a strong feeling that the state was willing to make a deal because they weren’t willing to take a chance on a trial.