Defense in Chauvin Trial Fears Impact of $27M Settlement, Nine Jurors Seated, Five More To Go

By Maryam Henein

This week’s deliberations began with Derek Chauvin’s Defense attorney Eric Nelson expressing worry given the recent announcement of a $27 million settlement for the Floyd family.

Nelson said the settlement’s timing was “very suspicious” and “has incredible propensity to taint the jury pool,” making it impossible for his client to get a fair trial.

“I am gravely concerned with the news that broke on Friday,” Nelson said.

Nelson asked the judge to delay the trial and raised the possibility of renewing his previously unsuccessful motion to move Derek Chauvin’s trial to another city. Given the notoriety of this case, many contend that you’d need to move this case to another planet to ensure a fair trial. Arguably, pretending this is in any way impartial trial is a complete farce.

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On Friday March 12th, George Floyd’s family and attorney Benjamin Crump spoke to reporters in Minneapolis about the civil lawsuit filed by Floyd’s family against the city and four former police officers charged in his death. During the press conference Crump stated unequivocally that Derek Chauvin had killed Floyd and engaged in “horrific torture.” He also denied that George Floyd may have overdosed from all the drugs that the Medical Examiner and an independent lab found in his system. Crump said that the “only overdose was one of excessive force.”

Mayor Jacob Frey, who has previously said on record that Chauvin had “murdered” Floyd, was also present. What has happened to “innocent until proven guilty?”

Nelson also remarked that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s son, Jeremiah, is a member of the City Council that unanimously approved the settlement. Keith Ellison is leading the prosecution team and often has been present in the courtroom. He chose to sit on body cam footage from rookie officers Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane for approximately two months. The footage shows a slightly different picture where George Floyd is resisting the cops and arguably not acting like a 46-year-old adult. Could Ellison have helped prevent violent riots?

In the past, Jeremiah has tweeted his allegiance to Antifa writing, “I hereby declare, officially, my support for ANTIFA. Unless someone can prove to me ANTIFA is behind the burning of black and immigrant owned businesses in my ward, I’ll keep focusing on stopping the white power terrorist THE (sic) ARE ACTUALLY ATTACKING US!”

During a break in jury selection, Papa Ellison stopped at Nelson’s table and said: “Is there anything else anyone would like to not accuse me of?”

Nelson acknowledged Ellison but did not reply.

As a remedy, Nelson urged Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill to consider giving both sides extra strikes to remove potential jurors for possible bias, and to recall the seven jurors already seated.

The state, however, said those jurors have already promised they could decide the case based only on evidence presented at trial (isn’t omission a basis for pause?) and urged the court to “take a step back.”

“You would agree it’s unfortunate, right?” Cahill asked.

“It’s certainly not my preference, your honor,” Prosecutor Steve Schleicher replied.

“All I can say to the court is there are some things the state of Minnesota and this prosecution team can control, and there are some things it cannot control … We cannot control the civil aspect of the case, we cannot and do not control the Minneapolis City Council, and we certainly cannot and do not control the news cycle,” he added.

It was unclear whether news of the settlement would “cut” in favor of the prosecution or the defense, Schleicher also stated.

“The problem is, it cuts,” replied Cahill. “I think the defense has a legitimate concern, and even the state has a concern.”

Cahill said he’d consider the request for a delay, but didn’t think it would be appropriate to grant additional strikes to either side. He also discussed recalling the seven previously seated jurors for further questioning.

“I wish city officials would stop talking about this case so much, but at the same time I don’t find any evil intent that they were trying to tamper with this case,” Cahill said. The judge has repeatedly instructed potential jurors to avoid all news coverage about the case.

Chauvin is charged with murder and manslaughter. Three other former officers face an August trial on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Attorneys have been questioning potential jurors for the past week. The number of jurors chosen grew by two by Monday early afternoon central time.

Escaping The Cut, More Jurors Grilled on Day 6

Juror 51

Given news of the recent settlement, the defense questioned potential jurors if the recent news had impacted their views. And the impact of the viral video of Floyd’s death was felt during Monday’s jury questioning as main were dismissed for being tainted.

The woman who works in HR immediately quickly told the court, she had inadvertently heard about the $27 million on the radio.

“When I heard that, I literally gasped at the amount,” Juror 51 remarked, adding that she couldn’t promise she could disregard it. She was aware that the settlement was the largest settlement next to the Justine Damond settlement.

Cahill asks whether that affects her partiality.

“I would like to think of myself as someone coming in to be impartial, but to be honest I already had strong opinions.”

Needless to say, she was dismissed.

Next.

Juror 52

A black man in his 30s who works in banking, coaches youth sports, and does creative writing as a hobby, was the eighth juror to be seated. He has seen the widely viewed bystander’s video of Floyd’s arrest.

“I don’t think [Chauvin] had any intention of harming anybody, but somebody did die. … Somebody could have still intervened and stopped it.”

When pressed about assessing Chauvin’s intent, the man said he could still “definitely look at [the case] from an objective point of view.”

It was refreshing to see a black man who held neutral impressions of both Chauvin and Floyd, saying he didn’t believe Chauvin set out to murder anyone. He also wondered why other officers didn’t intervene.

Nelson asked him if he ended up voting not guilty would he “be able to tell the kids you coach and explain why you did?”

The man replied that he could.

Juror 54

Juror 54 was a 75 year old who kept his mask on while being questioned. He said he was “disturbed” by the bystander video showing Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck, and couldn’t watch the whole thing.

“I’m sorry that I… I… I… I’m sorry to Mr. Chauvin and I’m sorry to the Court, I CANNOT say I would honestly be an impartial juror.”

He was dismissed.

Juror 55

Juror 55, a white woman in her 50s who lives outside Minneapolis and works as an executive assistant in a clinical health care setting, turned the video off.

She wrote in her questionnaire filled out months ago, “I couldn’t watch it in full because it was too disturbing to me.” Specifically that Chauvin didn’t move his knee and had the impression he didn’t care about Floyd. She trusts police, thinks “Black Lives Matter” can be perceived as saying other lives don’t.

The avid motorcycle biker who rides at Sturgis in the spirit of her late husband, added that there were riots close to her home in Minneapolis and believes All Lives Matter.

She pledged “I’m not in a position to change the law. I’m in a position to uphold the law … He’s innocent until we can prove otherwise.”

She was seated as the ninth juror.

Juror 56

Judge swiftly dismissed potential Juror 56 who said he knew about the 3rd degree murder plea deal that Chauvin had initially agreed to, and that the charge was thrown out and just reinstated. He explained that the television in his workplace break room is on constantly, exposing him to updates on the case.



He told Judge Cahill it would “be tough” to be impartial.

Juror 59

When Judge Cahill asked, “Do you think you could presume the defendant [Derek Chauvin] innocent? Not try, but actually could?”

“No. I’m almost sick to my stomach right now.”

He was also excused.

Juror 60

Juror 60, a college student, was seemingly the first person to have no idea what the case was about.

Prospective Juror 60 wrote that “four police officers went into Mr. Floyd’s house and shot him…the girlfriend called the police and Mr. Floyd was armed.” When the defense asked him if he’d be surprised if none of that happened, he said not really. He’s never seen the video.

“You might think about it for a long time after this is over and that would carry a big weight. I might be persuaded by a very particular speaker… but it’s someone else’s fate….”

Juror 60 reflected on the long-term, permanent, aftereffects of rendering a verdict.

Excused.

The defense exercised a peremptory strike on prospective Juror 60.

The defense has used eight of 15 strikes, which attorneys can employ to dismiss prospective jurors without explanation. Prosecutors have used five of the nine peremptory strikes.

The nine jurors selected so far include six men and three women. Five of the jurors are white, one is multiracial, two are Black and one is Hispanic. The jurors range in age from their 20s to their 50s.

Read Day 1

Read Day 2

Read Day 3

Read Day 4

Read Day 5

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