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1997 Minnesota Statutes

This is a historical version of this statute chapter. Also view the most recent published version.

611A.74 Crime victim ombudsman; creation.

Subdivision 1. Creation. The office of crime victim ombudsman for Minnesota is created. The ombudsman shall be appointed by the governor, shall serve in the unclassified service at the pleasure of the governor, and shall be selected without regard to political affiliation. No person may serve as ombudsman while holding any other public office. The ombudsman is directly accountable to the governor. The ombudsman shall have the authority to investigate decisions, acts, and other matters of the criminal justice system so as to promote the highest attainable standards of competence, efficiency, and justice for crime victims in the criminal justice system.

Subd. 1a. Organization of office. (a) The ombudsman may appoint employees necessary to discharge responsibilities of the office. The ombudsman may delegate to staff members any of the ombudsman's authority or duties except the duties of formally making recommendations to appropriate authorities and reports to the office of the governor or to the legislature.

(b) The commissioner of public safety shall provide office space and administrative support services to the ombudsman and the ombudsman's staff.

Subd. 2. Duties. The crime victim ombudsman may investigate complaints concerning possible violation of the rights of crime victims or witnesses provided under this chapter, the delivery of victim services by victim assistance programs, the administration of the crime victims reparations act, and other complaints of mistreatment by elements of the criminal justice system or victim assistance programs. The ombudsman shall act as a liaison, when the ombudsman deems necessary, between agencies, either in the criminal justice system or in victim assistance programs, and victims and witnesses. The ombudsman may be concerned with activities that strengthen procedures and practices which lessen the risk that objectionable administrative acts will occur. The ombudsman must be made available through the use of a toll free telephone number and shall answer questions concerning the criminal justice system and victim services put to the ombudsman by victims and witnesses in accordance with the ombudsman's knowledge of the facts or law, unless the information is otherwise restricted. The ombudsman shall establish a procedure for referral to the crime victim crisis centers, the crime victims reparations board, and other victim assistance programs when services are requested by crime victims or deemed necessary by the ombudsman.

The ombudsman's files are confidential data as defined in section 13.02, subdivision 3, during the course of an investigation or while the files are active. Upon completion of the investigation or when the files are placed on inactive status, they are private data on individuals as defined in section 13.02, subdivision 12.

Subd. 3. Powers. The crime victim ombudsman has those powers necessary to carry out the duties set out in subdivision 2, including:

(a) The ombudsman may investigate, with or without a complaint, any action of an element of the criminal justice system or a victim assistance program included in subdivision 2.

(b) The ombudsman may request and shall be given access to information and assistance the ombudsman considers necessary for the discharge of responsibilities. The ombudsman may inspect, examine, and be provided copies of records and documents of all elements of the criminal justice system and victim assistance programs. The ombudsman may request and shall be given access to police reports pertaining to juveniles and juvenile delinquency petitions, notwithstanding section 260.161. Any information received by the ombudsman retains its data classification under chapter 13 while in the ombudsman's possession. Juvenile records obtained under this subdivision may not be released to any person.

(c) The ombudsman may prescribe the methods by which complaints are to be made, received, and acted upon; may determine the scope and manner of investigations to be made; and subject to the requirements of sections 611A.72 to 611A.74, may determine the form, frequency, and distribution of ombudsman conclusions, recommendations, and proposals.

(d) After completing investigation of a complaint, the ombudsman shall inform in writing the complainant, the investigated person or entity, and other appropriate authorities of the action taken. If the complaint involved the conduct of an element of the criminal justice system in relation to a criminal or civil proceeding, the ombudsman's findings shall be forwarded to the court in which the proceeding occurred.

(e) Before announcing a conclusion or recommendation that expressly or impliedly criticizes an administrative agency or any person, the ombudsman shall consult with that agency or person.

Subd. 4. No compelled testimony. Neither the ombudsman nor any member of the ombudsman's staff may be compelled to testify or produce evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding with respect to matters involving the exercise of official duties except as may be necessary to enforce the provisions of this section.

Subd. 5. Recommendations. (a) On finding a complaint valid after duly considering the complaint and whatever material the ombudsman deems pertinent, the ombudsman may recommend action to the appropriate authority.

(b) If the ombudsman makes a recommendation to an appropriate authority for action, the authority shall, within a reasonable time period, but not more than 30 days, inform the ombudsman about the action taken or the reasons for not complying with the recommendation.

(c) The ombudsman may publish conclusions and suggestions by transmitting them to the governor, the legislature or any of its committees, the press, and others who may be concerned. When publishing an opinion adverse to an administrative agency, the ombudsman shall include any statement the administrative agency may have made to the ombudsman by way of explaining its past difficulties or its present rejection of the ombudsman's proposals.

Subd. 6. Reports. In addition to whatever reports the ombudsman may make from time to time, the ombudsman shall biennially report to the legislature and to the governor concerning the exercise of ombudsman functions during the preceding biennium. The biennial report is due on or before the beginning of the legislative session following the end of the biennium.

HIST: 1Sp1985 c 4 s 20; 1986 c 444; 1987 c 244 s 7; 1988 c 638 s 16; 1990 c 583 s 8,9; 1995 c 226 art 7 s 17; 1997 c 239 art 7 s 34-36

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