Jury Pool Loses Two People Due To Settlement Publicity, Adds Two

By Maryam Henein

The total number of jurors momentarily shrank back to seven after Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill removed two after questioning them via Zoom about whether they had heard of the recent civil settlement. It soon became apparent it affected their ability to assure Chauvin of his constitutional right to be presumed innocent.

Today’s jury selection added another two, bringing the total back up to nine where they started that morning.

“Better than being behind,” Cahill stated.

Cahill excused Juror 36 and 20 for cause; one of the dismissed jurors was a Hispanic man in his 20s who said news of the settlement “kind of” confirmed opinions that he already had.

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The second dismissed juror, a white man in his 30s, said he was taken aback by the size of the settlement. “It sent a message that the city of Minneapolis felt something was wrong,” the man said. “That sticker price shocked me. It kind of swayed me, yes.”

The remaining seated jurors questioned solely by the judge were either not aware of the settlement or said it would not impact their opinions.

So before Wednesday’s jury selection began the juror profile was as follows:

  1. W/M, 20s, Chemist
  2. Multi-race/F, 20s
  3. W/M, 30s, Auditor
  4. B/M, 30s, IT Security Manager
  5. W/F, 50s, Nonprofit Health Advocate
  6. B/M, 30s, Banker/Youth Sports Coach
  7. W/F, 50s, Exec Assist. Healthcare

Jury Duty Continues

Juror 75

Juror 75 said he watched some of the livestream before coming into court today. After telling the court he is more likely to believe the witness testimony of a police officer, Juror 75 was dismissed. He was unemployed after a stint as a contractor and noted how being on the jury might stall his job search. It was obvious he did not want to sit as a juror.

Juror 76

“Being a Black man in America, I experience racism on a day-to-day basis,” Juror 76 told the court. He remarked how the police in Hennepin have long harassed residents and gave an example of how officers ride around playing “Another One Bites The Dust” after arresting people in the neighborhood.

“Me, as a Black man, you see a lot of Black men get killed and no one is held accountable for it,” he said. “And you wonder why. Maybe I will be in the [court] room to know why.”

In regards to the viral arrest footage of Floyd, he remarked “another Black man being murdered in hands of police” was “sad.”

Despite experiencing prejudice at the hands of Minneapolis police, he gave firm assurances to the defense’s repeated questions about whether he could be a fair arbiter of the evidence.

Nonetheless, Derek Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson used a 12th defense strike, with only three remaining.

Before being forced to use another strike, Nelson sought to have Cahill dismiss the man because of several remarks regarding his experiences with Minneapolis officers, including the jury candidate’s references to Floyd being “murdered” and saying police would “antagonize us in the area” and play “Another One Bites The dust” while he lived near 38th and Chicago.

Prosecutors opposed the motion, saying, “I don’t’ think the prospective juror reflecting his actual life experience reflected any actual bias. I think he was reflecting his reality as he sees it every day.”

Juror 78

Juror 78 has seen some headlines on the case including the debate over the 3rd-degree murder trial and the $27M civil settlement with the George Floyd family. The settlement didn’t surprise him and stated that it was “not pertinent” to the criminal case.

He was aware of George Floyd’s drug use but added that it did not justify an undue death.

When Nelson asked him whether he could presume Chauvin as innocent, he paused before saying “I would like to think I could but that’s a really difficult question … I don’t know if I could … It would be difficult to erase everything.”

He also divulged a Facebook post he’d penned shortly after George Floyd’s death that touched on policing & racism because he had not disclosed it on his questionnaire.

The judge excused him for his inability to be impartial.

Juror 79

Juror 79, an older black immigrant who said he does not support defunding the police, was added to the jury.

He noted on his questionnaire that “every life should matter” and generally trusts the police.

Juror 85

“Where do you see there’s room for improvement,” Nelson asked Juror 85, a working hockey mom, in regards to whether the criminal justice system works.

“I find the perfect process is really hard to come by so I believe there’s room for improvement in everything we do,” she responded.

When it comes to jury deliberations, Nelson asked, “Would you abandon your belief or principle simply to gain consensus with the group.. or dig in your heels and stand your ground?”

“I would probably stand my ground,” she responded adding that it would depend on the issue at hand.

She believed she would be able to put what she had seen to the side in favor of depending exclusively on the evidence presented in the court.

She didn’t have an opinion on defunding Minneapolis Police.

“I feel like as humans they can make mistakes as well and if there’s a case in which people feel like anyone was mistreated in any way, I think they should be asked about it.”

When asked about the impact of protests on the community she responded the impact was both negative and positive.

“… Obviously there was a lot of damage done to businesses and probably homes … the positive things I see that came out of it were really giving people a voice that maybe didn’t feel heard.”

Juror #85 is seated.

This was the last juror of the day. Proceedings pick back up Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. CT. The judge said Wednesday he would rule Friday on a continuance and the change of venue option.

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