City Deprived Derek Chauvin of a Fair Trial: Appeal to Minnesota Supreme Court
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is appealing his murder conviction in the 2020 death of George Floyd.
On Wednesday, Chauvin’s attorney, William Mohrman, filed a petition to have the Minnesota Supreme Court review the conviction, arguing in part that the decision by the district judge to try Chauvin in Minneapolis deprived him of a fair trial, according to The Associated Press.
“We’re very hopeful that the Minnesota Supreme Court will accept review of the case,” Mohrman said.
The attorney said in his petition to have the case heard that it touches upon important questions such as “developing and clarifying due process requirements to transfer venue when there is unprecedented pervasive pretrial publicity coupled with community violence.”
Mohrman said the case also could address an issue of juror misconduct.
One juror in the case had participated in a commemoration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington after Floyd’s death — a fact not revealed prior to the trial.
Last month, the Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected Chauvin’s appeal, prompting the new appeal to the highest court in the state.
The appellate court ruled the refusal to grant a change of venue or sequester the jury was not grounds to throw out the verdict, according to KMSP-TV.
The court ruled that “a district court does not abuse its discretion by denying the motions if it takes sufficient mitigating steps and verifies that the jurors can set aside their impressions or opinions and deliver a fair and impartial verdict.”
The court did not deny that the case received widespread publicity. Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, set off a summer of protests and riots across the nation.
However, the court’s decision said that “while Chauvin identifies the extent of the publicity, he fails to analyze its content or explain why the publicity prejudiced him.”
“Second,” it said, “although the trial started in March 2021, approximately ten months after Floyd’s death, the district court found that the trial was very likely to generate substantial publicity regardless of when and where it was held, so moving the trial or delaying it would not have made a difference.”
The court also said that during jury selection, “Chauvin did not use all his peremptory challenges and had three left. Unused peremptory challenges suggest that a defendant is satisfied that the jurors selected would be unbiased.”
The appeals court rejected every contention raised by Chauvin.
“Police officers undoubtedly have a challenging, difficult, and sometimes dangerous job,” it said. “However, no one is above the law. When they commit a crime, they must be held accountable just as those individuals that they lawfully apprehend.
“The law only permits police officers to use reasonable force when effecting a lawful arrest. Chauvin crossed that line here when he used unreasonable force on Floyd.”
“We further conclude that Chauvin is not entitled to a new trial based upon the district court’s failure to ensure that sidebar conferences were transcribed and that any alleged cumulative error did not deny Chauvin a fair trial,” the court said.
In addition to the state murder charge that resulted in a 22.5-year sentence, Chauvin pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge that carried a 21-year sentence. He is serving both at a federal prison in Arizona.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.