Derek Chavin’s lawyer, a former Minneapolis police officer convicted of the murder of George Floyd, after kneeling on his neck for nearly ten minutes, filed a series of motions on Tuesday calling for a retrial for several reasons – including misconduct by the jury.
The request was sent two weeks after the jury’s verdict, which convicted Chauvin in three categories of homicide. The case, recorded on video on May 25 last year, sparked a wave of protests against racism and police violence in the United States and in more than 60 countries. The sentence was given by a group of 12 jurors, after a trial that took three weeks.
In a series of motions filed with district judge Peter Cahill, attorney Eric Nelson said Chauvin did not receive a fair trial for several reasons including the judge’s decision to refuse defense requests to move the case out of Hennepin County ( where Minneapolis is located) due to the publicity of the case and not to isolate the jury during the trial. The lawyer also says that the jury felt threatened and intimidated.
The motion was already expected and is a common measure after criminal convictions in the country.
A photo of one of the jurors taking part in the Martin Luther King Jr. speech anniversary march has circulated on social media in the past few days, resulting in comments on a possible reason for the verdict to be overturned. Experts heard by the New York Times, however, say it is highly unlikely that Chauvin will win an appeal.
Before the trial, all potential jurors were asked to complete a questionnaire asking whether they or anyone close to them “participated in protests about the use of force or police brutality”.
Brandon Mitchell, the only juror to speak publicly after convicting Chauvin, told the local newspaper The Star Tribune that he had answered no to the question. He said he was at the rally in Washington to honor the activist and the fight for civil rights and that he did not see this as a march against police brutality.
The jurors were not publicly identified. What is known from the case file is that the group was composed of four white women, two white men, three black men, one black woman and two women who identify themselves as multiracial.
Judge Cahill can call a hearing to question Mitchell and investigate whether he lied in his questionnaire. But, even if Cahill determined that Mitchell intentionally misled the court in his questionnaire, that would probably not be enough to reject the verdict.
The hearings began on March 29, and 45 witnesses were heard, including police, medical experts and passers-by who witnessed the police approach.
When they presented the case over more than two weeks, prosecutors gathered emotional witnesses, police officers who claimed that Chauvin’s actions violated police department policies and medical experts who told the court that Floyd, 46, died of suffocation.
Chauvin pleaded not guilty to all charges and renounced his right to testify before jurors. His defense lawyer said Chavin had behaved like any “reasonable police officer”, arguing that he followed his 19-year training in the force.
The duration of the sentence is yet to be announced. Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison. Since he is a primary defendant, a conviction of this type would generally lead to 12 ½ years in prison, but prosecutors can ask for an extension of the sentence, based on aggravating factors.
Com Reuters e The New York Times