Carlton County dismissed from federal lawsuit

Lauri Ketola was also dismissed from the suit in her role as county attorney, but remains a defendant for her actions prior to taking office.

Scott Holman
Scott Holman

Carlton County Attorney Lauri Ketola and Carlton County itself were recently dismissed as defendants from a lawsuit claiming they violated the civil rights of a former Cloquet Police Department officer.

Scott Holman — a CPD officer dismissed in June 2019 — filed a federal lawsuit in January seeking damages in excess of $4 million claiming he was a victim of a conspiracy between Ketola and Cloquet Ward 4 City Councilor Kerry Kolodge, as well as Carlton County and the city of Cloquet, that deprived him of his First Amendment rights.

In a 4-2 vote on June 4, 2019, Holman was terminated by the Cloquet City Council after the Carlton County Attorney’s Office claimed his testimony in court was not reliable.

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Carlton County Attorney Lauri Ketola


In a motion filed June 12, U.S. District Court Judge Patrick Schiltz dismissed the county and Ketola from the suit because both have immunity for decisions Ketola made as county attorney. Ketola remains a defendant along with Kolodge and the city of Cloquet, for actions she took before becoming county attorney in January 2019.

Mike Padden, the attorney representing Holman, said they accepted Schiltz’s decision, but remain undeterred in their contention Holman’s rights were violated.

“The main thrust of our case is that (Holman) was retaliated against for exercising his First Amendment rights,” Padden said. “We’re not going to challenge that — it is what it is — but there’s still, obviously, as far as we’re concerned, a viable claim that this man was improperly terminated.”

On March 11, 2019, the Carlton County Attorney’s Office informed Daniel Lew, chief public defender for the Sixth Judicial District, in a Brady disclosure that Holman’s testimony may not be reliable.

The 1963 Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland requires prosecutors to disclose material that could be favorable to defendants in criminal cases, including misconduct of law enforcement officers.

The disclosure related to an incident in 2004 and his conduct on social media in July 2017.

Holman was disciplined by former police chief Wade Lamirande in 2004 after he missed a mandatory cold-weather firearms training session. Holman claimed he was sick, but was later seen out consuming alcoholic beverages. Lamirande suspended Holman for one day with pay and required him to write a formal letter of apology to the force.

In March 2018, Holman received an oral reprimand from then-Chief Jeff Palmer as a result of comments he made on Facebook using a pseudonym. The comments, made in July 2017, were critical of Ketola, Kolodge and former police chief Steve Stracek.


The lawsuit contends Ketola was dissatisfied with the oral reprimand Holman received for the critical Facebook comments.

As a member of the Cloquet Citizens Advisory Board (CAB), Ketola advocated for a more severe punishment, according to the lawsuit. CAB is a three-member board appointed by the City Council to assist the police department with disciplinary procedures, public complaints and hiring procedures.

Ketola should have recused herself from the advisory board hearing, according to the lawsuit, because of the criticism Holman directed at her and because of the close relationship she had with Stracek.

Similarly, the suit says Kolodge should have recused himself from the vote to terminate Holman as he was a subject of Holman’s criticism and because he worked with Stracek at the Duluth Police Department.

Jessica Schwie — the attorney for Ketola, Kolodge and the city of Cloquet — did not respond to requests for comment.

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Kerry Kolodge

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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