Derek Chauvin's Lawyer Seeks New Trial

Illustration for article titled Derek Chauvin's Lawyer Seeks New Trial
Photo: Court TV via AP, Pool (AP)

Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder for killing George Floyd weeks ago, but his defense lawyers are already trying to get a new trial.

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Eric Nelson said in a four-page document that a number of errors were made during the trial, including mistakes made by Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, prosecutorial and juror misconduct, intimidation of witnesses and the publicity surrounding the case, according to CNN.

According to the filing, Nelson claims the publicity of the trial wasn’t fair to Chauvin and a defense witness was intimidated. He also claimed that jurors felt pressured because of race and failed to adhere to instructions.

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“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.

He went on to say that the court abused its discretion in not changing the venue or sequestering the jury. Moreover, Nelson accused prosecutors of disparaging the defense, improper vouching, failing to prepare witnesses, among other accusations.

According to the document that CNN cited, the court also “abused its discretion when it submitted instructions to the jury that failed to accurately reflect the law,” referring to the second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and authorized use of force charges.

But it appears that the prosecution isn’t worried about the new motion.

John Stiles, deputy chief of staff for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, told CNN that “The court has already rejected many of these arguments and the State will vigorously oppose them.”

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It is not unusual for the defense to file motions of an appeal after a guilty verdict, but given the high stakes involved, a lot is riding on Judge Cahill’s response. It is rare for a cop to be convicted of killing a Black man, so if this appeal actually happens, it will be a blow to activists and progressive prosecutors who are fighting police abuse.

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.

DISCUSSION

bassguitarhero
bassguitarhero

So this first appeal will very likely go nowhere. It’s all stuff that’s already been hashed out. Almost everything the lawyer brings up was already addressed in court, so I don’t see this gaining any traction.

I saw the photo of Brandon Mitchell wearing the “Get your knees off our necks” t-shirt, though, and that’s a bad look. My guess is that THAT appeal will have legs. I don’t think it will cause a mistrial, though.

The state did its job, the judge did their job, the prosecution did their job, the defense did their job. The juror was accepted by both the prosecution and defense. So I don’t see a mistrial here.

But before the graycists go off about “You can’t just make it okay for jurors to be biased,” there is a very real and existing punishment for people who injure the civil rights and freedoms of others, and that is jail. I suspect Mitchell will be sentenced for perjury, the racists will have their unequal pound of flesh, and the justice system will move on.