Former police officer Derek Chauvin files motion for new trial, citing jury intimidation

Former police officer Derek Chauvin, convicted last month of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd last May, filed a motion for a new trial on Tuesday.

Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, argued that the court should have granted the defense’s motion to move the trial out of Hennepin County, given the strong local sentiments about the case. The motion alleges the court abused its discretion by denying the requests for a change in venue and a new trial. Because the court failed to sequester the jurors or “admonish them to avoid all media,” Nelson’s filing said, they were subjected not only to prejudicial publicity but also to “jury intimidation or potential fear of retribution.”

“The court has already rejected many of these arguments and the State will vigorously oppose them,” John Stiles, deputy chief of staff for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, said in a statement Tuesday evening. In total, the motion alleges eight abuses of discretion by the court. Nelson’s filing also accuses Minnesota state prosecutors of committing “pervasive, prejudicial prosecutorial misconduct” that also affected Chauvin’s right to receive a fair trial. The filing comes just one day it emerged that juror Brandon Mitchell attended a rally last summer where George Floyd’s relatives addressed the crowd, despite telling the court he’d never been at a protest.

Mitchell, a high school basketball coach, was pictured at the March on Washington event wearing a T-shirt with a picture of King and the words, ‘GET YOUR KNEE OFF OUR NECKS’ and ‘BLM’. Mitchell said he answered ‘no’ to two questions about demonstrations on the questionnaire sent out before jury selection. The first question asked: ‘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?’ The second 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?’

Mike Brandt, a Minneapolis defense attorney not involved in the case, told the AP the revelation alone wasn’t nearly enough to overturn Chauvin’s conviction, but it could be combined with other issues – the announcement of a massive civil settlement to Floyd’s family during jury selection, the shooting of Daunte Wright, the judge’s refusal to move the trial – in an appeal to say Chauvin was denied a fair trial. Ted Sampsell-Jones, a professor at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, told the Associated Press that the photo of Mitchell was ‘evidence that Chauvin can point to in order to establish that his right to an impartial jury was denied.’





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