MINNEAPOLIS – Derek Chauvin’s lawyer, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd, filed a motion for a retrial on Tuesday, alleging that the improper conduct of the judge, prosecutors and jurors compromised the right of your client to a fair trial.
Defense lawyer Eric Nelson, on the left, accompanied by Derek Chauvin, speaks to the judge last month at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. (Associated Press)
In his motion, Eric Nelson accused Hennepin County District Court judge Peter A. Cahill of “abuse of power” when he denied a defense request to withdraw the Minneapolis trial and later refused to isolate the jury, arguing Floyd’s intense media coverage of death before and during the process undermined “the justice of the trial”.
Nelson also claims that Chauvin’s defense was damaged by “post-testimony, but pre-deliberation intimidation by specialized defense witnesses, from whom the jury was not isolated.”
“These acts have not only increased the potential for prejudice in these cases, but may also result in a comprehensive effort to paralyze defendants’ ability to obtain expert witnesses – especially in high profile cases, such as those of Mr. Chauvin’s co-defendants – to testify on your behalf, ”wrote Nelson. “Advertising was so widespread and so damaging before and during this trial that it represented a structural defect in the process.”
Nelson said that Cahill’s refusal to kidnap the jury before the deliberations resulted in exposure to news coverage that harmed Chauvin, “as well as jury intimidation and potential fear of retaliation among jurors”, although he offered no evidence for his claim.
The motion also calls for a hearing to investigate whether the jury “committed misconduct, felt threatened or intimidated, felt pressure based on race during the process and / or failed to follow instructions during deliberations”.
The request comes several days after one of the jurors, Brandon Mitchell, spoke publicly about the panel’s deliberations.
Mitchell told several media outlets that jurors wondered why Chauvin did not testify in his own name, a statement that some legal experts have suggested could trigger a defense motion to question jurors again about whether Chauvin’s silence influenced his verdict. . Cahill told the jury that Chauvin’s decision not to testify should not feature in his decision making.
Mitchell has also been under scrutiny for the past few days after a photo of him wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt appeared while taking part in last March’s Washington march, a ceremony to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr’s famous 1963 “I Have a Dream” . He speaks. Mitchell indicated in his jury questionnaire that he had not participated in any Black Lives Matter protests, and he told the Star Tribune he did not consider the D.C. event to be a protest or an event specifically about Floyd’s death.
Photo of juror Chauvin wearing BLM t-shirt in March raises issues of impartiality, experts say
Nelson’s deposit, which was expected, fails Cahill repeatedly for his way of handling the trial.
He argues that the judge should have admonished jurors to “avoid all media” – an instruction that Cahill gave only later in the process, following the word of a $ 27 million civil settlement between Floyd’s family and the city of Minneapolis resulted in the dismissal of two jurors during the selection jury.
Nelson said Cahill also violated Chauvin’s right to a fair trial when he refused to force Morries Lester Hall, a passenger in Floyd’s car the night he was killed, to testify or allow the defense to register statements that Hall made to police authorities after Floyd’s death.
Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and murder in the death of George Floyd
Hall, who had allegedly sold drugs to Floyd in the past, invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination by refusing to testify. His lawyer argued that his testimony could open him to a third-degree murder charge in Floyd’s death, given the presence of drugs in the Floyd system.
Nelson also accused Cahill of allowing prosecutors to present “cumulative evidence” on the use of force and of giving instructions to the jury “that did not accurately reflect the law”, including on the use of force.
Chauvin’s lawyer also accused prosecutors of “widespread, damaging misconduct …”, including “depreciation of the defense” and “failure to adequately prepare his witnesses”.
John Stiles, a spokesman for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office oversaw the prosecution, dismissed Nelson’s allegations. “The court has already rejected many of these arguments and the state will vigorously oppose them,” said Stiles.
Chauvin was found guilty last month of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and wrongful death in Floyd’s death in May 2020, which occurred after the former policeman knelt on the man’s neck and back for nine minutes and 29 seconds during an arrest.
Chauvin, who is being held in solitary confinement in a Minnesota prison pending his June 25 sentence, could face up to 40 years under the state’s enforced sentencing guidelines.