Legal experts believe that a retrial for Derek Chauvin, the officer recently convicted of murdering George Floyd in the video seen ’round the world, may happen due to the alleged partiality of one of the jurors.
Brandon Mitchell, who served on the jury that convicted Chauvin, faced a public backlash this week after a picture of him from last August surfaced.
The photograph depicts Mitchell wearing a hat with the words “Black Lives Matter” and a t-shirt with the phrase “Get your knee off our necks” and the letters “BLM” next to a picture of Martin Luther King Jr.
The image is problematic because, according to The Washington Post, all members of the jury were required to fill out a 14-page questionnaire that specifically asked about their perspectives on Black Lives Matter and whether they had attended any demonstrations against police brutality.
Mitchell stated that he answered “very favorable” to his opinion of BLM and “no” to the question of protest involvement in an interview with the Star Tribune.
Further, Mitchell said that the photograph was taken at an event commemorating MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech which was attended by thousands, and not at an anti-police protest.
News of the image caused a stir of frustration among right-wing personalities, many of whom expressed a belief that the image demonstrated Chauvin did not receive a fair trial.
“Officer Chauvin was wrongfully convicted under the US Constitution’s 6th Amendment right to a trial by an IMPARTIAL JURY,” tweeted David Clarke Jr.
This is an INJUSTICE. Officer Chauvin was wrongfully convicted under the US Constitution’s 6th Amendment right to a trial by an IMPARTIAL JURY. Conviction MUST be vacated and retried. #RetryOfficerChauvinhttps://t.co/hUbcvYbsyr
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) May 4, 2021
“Chauvin never stood a chance,” tweeted conservative journalist Elijah Schaffer.
WSJ Interviewed Chauvin juror Brandon Mitchell:
“I just related to it too much,” he said. “Being big, you know, former athlete and all these things—it just, it really just hit home…. It just felt like something that easily could have been me..”
Chauvin never stood a chance pic.twitter.com/lj8KSIuVap
— ELIJAH SCHAFFER (@ElijahSchaffer) April 29, 2021
Initial reactions aside, however, there may now be some real legal weight to the push for an appeal and retrial.
Joseph Daly, a professor emeritus at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, told the Star Tribune that the potential for such an appeal would depend on whether it could be established that Mitchell actively lied in his responses during jury selection.
In its article on the matter, The Washington Post interviewed Jury consultant Alan Tuerkheimer, who said that, while the photo was insufficient to overturn the verdict, it could lead to the judge calling Mitchell in for questioning to determine if he had lied about his political involvement or held a predetermined verdict in mind.
“That could change the outcome of things; if there is anything that makes him seem that he was not forthcoming, it could be an avenue for the judge to reconsider the case,” Tuerkheimer said, according to The Washington Post.
There is little that can be added to the unfathomable amount of words written about the brutality witnessed to in the recording of Floyd’s final moments beneath Chauvin’s knee.
Regardless of such violence, however, every American citizen is entitled to a fair trial in an impartial justice system and, as such, both Chauvin and the nation are owed the assurance that his verdict was arrived at based on the facts of the case and the facts of the case alone.
As such, hard questions must be asked to establish whether or not the trial of Chauvin was carried out in good faith.
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