Cortez Rice, charged with intimidating Kim Potter trial judge, deemed a flight risk and denied bail

Cortez Rice, charged with intimidating Kim Potter trial judge, deemed a flight risk and denied bail

December 21, 2021

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As a jury deliberates the fate of former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter, a Black Lives Matter protester accused of threatening the judge overseeing the high-profile case over Daunte Wright’s killing was ordered held without bail Monday after he was deemed a flight risk. 

Cortez Rice, 32, wearing an orange jail uniform, made his second court appearance during an hour-long virtual hearing where his lawyer argued for bail after he was denied bond earlier this month for allegedly violating his probation for a third time following a 2017 conviction for felony possession of a firearm.

The latest charge of felony harassment, among others, stems from Rice’s actions on Nov. 6 when he allegedly live-streamed himself inside a downtown Minneapolis condominium where he believed Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu lived. Chu had previously barred cameras from the courtroom where Potter’s trial was held, prompting Rice to allegedly make threatening remarks towards her and demand she reverse her order. 

The judge did a few days later, saying her decision was made before the incident at her home.

“The Court’s decision most emphatically is not a reflexive response to recent protests at the presiding judge’s home,” Chu wrote.  

Regina Chu (left) is presiding over the trial for Kim Potter. Cortez Rice (right) is charged with intimidating the judge to allow cameras in the courtroom. 
(AP/Waukesha County Jail )

During Monday’s Zoom proceeding, Minneapolis civil rights attorney Jordan Kushner painted Rice as a community activist who volunteers to feed and clothe the homeless and works as a carpenter. He further argued against the merit of the charges against his client, saying his actions were protected by the First Amendment. 

“Mr. Rice was at a protest with many people at a public official’s home. He went into the building, which I guess is also unnerving, but there isn’t any crime associated with that,” he told Judge Salvador Rosas. “What he did, while it might be offensive, and maybe there would be some kind of misdemeanor that would fit with this, although I don’t know of any, it just doesn’t rise to the level of harassment that is charged against Mr. Rice.”

He offered the possibility of having Rice wear a GPS monitor that would not allow him to leave his home beyond a few feet. 

Prosecutor Michael Radmer noted that one of Rice’s alleged probation violations included leaving the state without permission. Kushner said Rice was headed to a last-minute memorial in Kentucky and could not get in contact with his probation officer when he was arrested in Wisconsin. 

He was not fleeing the state, he said. Rosas was not swayed.

Cortez Rice was transported from the Waukesha County Jail in Wisconsin back to Minnesota. He was ordered held without bond at the Hennepin County Public Safety building until at least his next court hearing on Dec. 20. 
(Fox News Digital/Danielle Wallace)

“I do believe that there’s a flight risk here. This is the third violation on a case where he received a very, very generous departure from the guidelines on a gun case, which used to be unheard of, and he managed to get at least two violations on that very generous sentence, and then he picked up another criminal offense,” the judge said, referencing the Wisconsin arrest. “The gun case alone would be sufficient for me to conclude that he would be a public safety risk.”

The bail hold will stay until the resolution of the probation violation, according to the ruling. 

During his first court appearance two weeks ago, Kushner argued that his client’s comments while livestreaming himself at the condominium were taken out of context by “White supremacist type groups” who reposted snippets of the video online. 

During the Dec. 7 hearing, Judge Bill Koch set bail at $20,000 for Rice on the felony harassment charge related to the incident at Chu’s home. That amount was lower than the $50,000 without conditions and the $30,000 with conditions requested by prosecutors.

Daunte Wright, left, was killed in an April traffic stop. Kim Potter, right, is charged with manslaughter in his killing. Broolyn Center, Minnesota city leaders are considering a resolution to give the city manager the power to declare a curfew as Potter prepares to stand trial. 
(Facebook/Hennepin County Sheriff)

A probable-cause hearing related to the new charges is scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m.

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