Photo obtained from some Facebook profile, published for purposes of First Amendment commentary and criticism, Al Flowers is to the right
Before I jump into this story, I'd first like to discuss something taught in schools of journalism called "news values."
How do reporters know what is news? How do reporters pick the stories which appear in, for example, dead tree media? (What most people call "newspapers?")
Well, it turns out there are principals for what is news and what ain't. For example, "bizarreness" is a news value.
Danger, violence, unsafe things that happen...in short, "if it bleeds, it leads." Conflict is a news value.
"Prominence" is another news value. If the president sprains his ankle, it's news. If the mayor of Bum Frack, Mississippi sprains his ankle...well, it's only news in the Bum Frack Daily Herald.
Another news value is "timeliness." So let us consider the situation we have here. Suppose you work for a newspaper and you're covering the mayoral race in Minneapolis. One of the (lunatic fringe) candidates has a son, and quite some time after the mayoral race this son is in some kind of juvie legal trouble, charged with "simple robbery."
But you don't find out about it when it happens...which is long after the mayoral race, anyway.
In fact, you don't find out until the whole legal process is mostly over and done.
If you worked for "old media," (the kind that requires vast financial resources to put newspapers in news racks all over the city, vast streams of advertising revenue to drive around with a fully equipped news van, etc.) and your criteria was "timeliness," you would ignore the story about Al Flowers' son having legal troubles. It was "news" when it happened, but having found out about the hearings long after they happened...it's not timely.
So here's this hot piece of information, and you (the dead tree media) are going to ignore it, because publishing it will make it appear as though you don't know everything important right when it happens.
Oh, sure, if Al Flowers ran for mayor again, down the road, and you were writing a story about Al Flowers...you might slip in the old information about the son being charged with simple robbery. Yeah, just slip it in without drama, like you didn't miss the hot story when it was good and timely and had just happened...
But blogger media has no such pretensions. If I think the information is interesting to my audience (and, really, when ISN'T "Mayor of Crazy Town" Al Flowers interesting, whether he's disrupting a JACC press conference or unsuccessfully suing a city council member or even holding his own press conference at the imaginary intersection of Broadway and Colfax) then I'm going to publish the story.
As a blogger, I don't put on an elaborate pretense of media omniscience. I'm perfectly free to say, "Here are some interesting online court records that touch on North Minneapolis. Too bad I'm in FREAKING AFGHANISTAN and can't view the actual paper court files so I can further flesh out the story."
And I'm perfectly free to say:
Holy cow. I was looking through some online court records, seeking something else entirely, when I stumbled on Al Delano Flowers, Jr's online juvie court records.
(The records appear when I do a "search by attorney" and search under Jill Clark, who has represented the senior Al Flowers repeatedly. Why juvie records can be accessed like this, I am not sure, but the record appears on a government website and that makes it a fair-and-square public record)
The junior Al Flowers was involved in two juvie court cases, 27-JV-10-2130 and 27-JV-10-3197.
The first case began on 03/09/2010. The second began on 04/13/2010.
In the first case, Flowers pled "not guilty" to simple robbery, but was "adjudicated delinquent." (The system doesn't use emotionally scarring terms like "guilty" in a juvenile proceeding) In the second proceeding, he was charged with simple robbery and attempt to commit simple robbery. He was adjudicated delinquent on both counts.
In the first case, detention was ordered, (03/09/2010) and "interim conditions" were imposed, which were:
Attend school regularly. No contact with victims. Remain law abiding. Make all future court appearances. Obey home rules.
(I'm guessing that last one was the easiest of all)
Release was ordered on 3/19/2010, which would seem to mean young Flowers was detained from 3/9 to 3/19. There was a court trial on 4/26. There was a motion to dismiss that same date. There was a "probation referral notification" on 4/29. (Keep in mind the OTHER court matter with the other docket number started on 4/13, so it appears one thing may have gotten tangled up with the other thing)
Findings and an order were filed on 6/4. Incredibly, there was an "Order for DNA Analysis." (What was THAT all about?)
An order was filed on 6/11.
On 7/13 there was a "Notice of Appeal."
A warrant was issued 08/26/2010. The warrant was quashed on 10/18. There was a discharge from probation on 7/28/2011.
Examining the other case, the one filed on 4/13/2011, there was a remarkably similar course of events (except no mention of DNA testing) and the matter was appealed. Electronic home monitoring was "stayed pending appeal."
The last action in the case took place on 8/4 and 8/24, when there was a "Request for Trial Court Record--Appellate Court" and "Other Document."
The mother of Al Flowers, Jr. is listed in the online court record as "Patunya Cofield." Her name comes up online as the branch secretary of the Minneapolis NAACP in 2005.
She is named as the wife of Al Flowers, Sr. in this March of 2000 "City Pages" story, click here.
The result of the cases in the Court of Appeals is unknown.