× Startups Business News Education Health Finance Technology Opinion Wealth Rankings Politics Leadership Sport Travels Careers Design Environment Energy Luxury Retail Lifestyle Automotives Photography International Press Release

May 5, 2021

Derek Chauvin asked a Minnesota judge to toss out his murder conviction and order a new trial Tuesday, arguing the jurors — who voted unanimously two weeks ago to convict him for killing George Floyd — may have been influenced by the national publicity the case attracted.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, filed a motion in state court Tuesday offering a range of complaints about how the murder and manslaughter trial was conducted and how the prosecutors presented evidence.

Nelson says the jurors should have been isolated for the entire trial, a practice known as sequestration, arguing an intense media environment opened the case up to “jury intimidation and potential fear of retribution among jurors.”

Nelson also says Judge Peter Cahill should have moved the trial to another venue instead of holding it in Minneapolis, a city rocked by protests following Floyd’s death last year, an idea Nelson raised at the beginning of the trial but Cahill denied.

“The publicity here was so pervasive and so prejudicial before and during this trial that it amounted to a structural defect in the proceedings,” Nelson wrote.

Chauvin was videotaped kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes last year during an arrest that turned fatal, sparking weeks of nationwide protests against police misconduct and systemic racism and costing Chauvin his job as a Minneapolis police officer. State prosecutors charged him with murder and manslaughter, and jurors found Chauvin guilty after just hours of deliberation. It’s not surprising that Chauvin is now looking to reverse the verdict. His lawyers repeatedly raised concerns about the publicity attached to the trial, which was broadcast nationwide and drew responses from celebrities and politicians. Nelson asked for a delay, a change of venue, and a sequestered jury; all his requests were denied.

Judge Cahill raised the prospect of an appeal toward the end of Chauvin’s trial last month. After Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) encouraged protesters to “get more confrontational” if jurors found Chauvin not guilty, Cahill said Waters’ comments may have given Chauvin grounds for an appeal that could end with “this whole trial being overturned,” though the judge still rejected Nelson’s motion for a mistrial based on Waters’ comments.

Chauvin is currently being held in state prison, and sentencing is slated for June 25. All three of Chauvin’s charges carry long multiyear sentences, but the most severe count — second-degree murder — could result in up to 40 years in prison.

The U.S. Department of Justice is still investigating Floyd’s killing on civil rights grounds. Federal officials have reportedly empaneled a grand jury and called witnesses to testify about Chauvin and other officers present for Floyd’s death, though DOJ prosecutors still haven’t charged Chauvin or anybody else.

Source: Forbes
Image Source: Getty Images