Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s attorney has filed a motion seeking a new trial in the death of George Floyd – arguing his constitutional right to a fair trial was violated multiple times.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson took issue with the judge’s refusal to grant a change of venue and the decision to not sequester jurors during the trial, among other things in a 10-point post-verdict filing.
“The cumulative effect of the multiple errors in these proceedings deprived Mr. Chauvin of a fair trial, in violation of his constitutional rights,” the filing reads.
Nelson argued that it was unconstitutional when the court declined to compel testimony from Morries Hall, a suspected drug dealer and friend of Floyd’s who was with him at the time of the May 25, 2020 incident that led to his death.
“The Court abused its discretion and violated Mr. Chauvin’s rights under the Confrontation Clause when it failed to order Morries Hall to testify, or in the alternative, to admit into evidence Mr. Hall’s statements to law enforcement regarding his interactions with George Floyd and presence at the May 25, 2020 incident.”
Hall invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying, but he had made statements to police that were not revealed to jurors, despite Nelson’s attempts to have them read in court.
Nelson also accused prosecutors of “pervasive, prejudicial prosecutorial misconduct” and alleged that jurors convicted Chauvin on charges that the evidence did not sufficiently support.
“The Court abused its discretion when it submitted instructions to the jury that failed to accurately reflect the law with respect to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and authorized use of force,” the filing reads.
And he argued that the court allowed prosecutors to lead witnesses during questioning.
In addition to requesting a new trial, Nelson also asked for the guilty verdicts against Chauvin to be tossed.
Two notable potential areas of conflict were left out of the filing – controversial remarks from Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters, and a juror who was photographed at a Black Lives Matter protest but failed to acknowledge it on the pretrial questionnaire given to potential jury members.
Waters had said she would urge protesters to “get more confrontational” if Chauvin had been acquitted at trial.
Juror Brandon Mitchell, was also captured on camera wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. and the phrases “Get your knee off our neck” and “BLM.” He is also wearing a “Black Lives Matter” hat in the photo.
Mitchell was the first member of the jury that convicted Chauvin of murdering George Floyd to publicly comment about the trial.
In a Monday interview with the Star Tribune, Mitchell said the photo is from a rally in Washington, DC, last summer commemorating MLK’s famous 1963 “I have a dream” speech. Mitchell told the newspaper his uncle had posted the photo to social media.
The juror insisted the DC march had nothing to do with Floyd. “It was directly related to MLK’s March on Washington from the ’60s … The date of the March on Washington is the date,” he told the newspaper.
“I’d never been to DC,” Mitchell said in explaining why he attended the rally. “The opportunity to go to DC, the opportunity to be around thousands and thousands of Black people; I just thought it was a good opportunity to be a part of something.”
During the jury selection process, each prospective juror is required to answer a questionnaire that includes questions about participation in demonstrations and protests.
“Did you, or someone close to you, participate in any of the demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death?” one question read, according to the newspaper.
The other asked: “Other than what you have already described above, have you, or anyone close to you, participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality?”
Mitchell told the Tribune that he replied “no” to both questions.
“I think I was being extremely honest, for sure,” Mitchell said of the jury selection process. “I gave my views on everything — on the case, on Black Lives Matter.”
Jury consultant Alan Tuerkheimer told the Washington Post that Mitchell’s questionnaire answers could lead to an appeal by Chauvin’s attorney. The judge could also call Mitchell in for questioning, Tuerkheimer said.
“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 told the newspaper.
Author: Jesse White