The defense attorney for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has filed a motion requesting that the guilty verdicts against his client be thrown out and is asking for a new trial, citing several reasons including “jury misconduct.”
Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter last month over the death of George Floyd — but new questions were raised in recent days over the impartiality of one of the jurors.
What are the details?
Chauvin lawyer Eric Nelson asserts in the filing that Judge Peter Cahill “abused” his discretion in numerous ways, such as denying Chauvin a change of venue, denying an earlier request for a new trial “on the grounds that ‘publicity during the proceedings threaten[ed] the fairness of the trial,'” and for failing to sequester the jury in the high-profile case.
Nelson also called for “an order for hearing to impeach the verdict…on the grounds that the jury committed misconduct, felt threatened or intimidated race-based pressure during the proceedings, and/or failed to adhere to instructions during deliberations, in violation of Mr. Chauvin’s constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial.”
Chauvin’s defense was expected to ask for a new trial, particularly after Judge Cahill acknowledged during the trial that incendiary public comments from Rep. Maxine Water (D-Calif.) arguably might have reached the jury and influenced their decision.
“It is so pervasive. I just don’t know how this jury can really be said to be that they are free from the taint of this,” Nelson told the judge before the verdict was reached. “Now that we have U.S. representatives threatening acts of violence in relation to this specific case, it’s mind-boggling to me, judge!”
Cahill responded, “I will give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.”
In recent days it was also revealed that Brandon Mitchell, one of the jurors who convicted Chauvin, was pictured wearing a BLM shirt last summer that referenced Floyd. The revelation sparked questions over whether Mitchell was forthright during jury selection about being impartial in the case, and legal experts suggested it could be used as another reason for Chauvin’s defense to appeal.
Mitchell defended himself to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, saying he does not recall wearing the shirt but did say the photo was taken in August when he went to an event in D.C. commemorating the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
The juror told the outlet the event was “100% not” a march for Floyd, adding, “It was directly related to MLK’s March on Washington from the ’60s…The date of the March on Washington is the date.”
In reaction to Nelson’s filing on Tuesday, the deputy chief of staff for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison told ABC News, “The court has already rejected many of these arguments and the State will vigorously oppose them.”