(Minneapolis) The judge presiding over the trial of a former Minneapolis cop over the death of George Floyd suspended jury selection for at least a day on Monday as the appeal continues over the possible reinstatement of the third-degree murder charge.
Amy Forletti and Steve Karnowski
As hundreds of protesters gathered outside the courtroom to demand Derek Chauvin’s conviction, Judge Peter Cahill said he had no jurisdiction to decide whether a third-degree premeditated murder charge should be redirected against the former policeman while the case was appealed. But he said that the plaintiffs ’arguments about the impact of the entire case were” flimsy. ”
The judge initially ruled that jury selection would begin as scheduled on Monday, but prosecutors said they would ask the appeals court to intervene, which could delay the case. Therefore, the judge sent the prospective jury home for the day.
Derek Chauvin is charged with second degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. Legal experts say a reconsideration of the third-degree homicide charge will improve the chances of securing a conviction. Derek Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, said Monday that he will ask the state Supreme Court to review the appeals court ruling that ordered Judge Cahill to reconsider the charge.
Jury selection is expected to take at least three weeks as prosecutors and defense attorneys attempt to disqualify those who might be biased in the case.
“We don’t want a completely virgin jury, because that means they are not in contact with the world at all,” said Susan Gartner, a former prosecutor. What is needed, however, are jurors who can disqualify opinions formed before entering the courtroom and grant both sides a fair hearing. ”
George Floyd’s death was announced on May 25 after white cop Derek Chauvin pressed his knee to the handcuffed black man’s neck for nine minutes. George Floyd’s death sparked occasional violent protests in Minneapolis and across the country.
Derek Chauvin and three other officers were sacked; The latter faces trial in August for complicity.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the courtroom at the start of the proceedings, many of them carrying signs reading “Justice for George Floyd” and “Fatal Police Condemnation”.
One speaker denounced the concrete barriers topped with chain link fences and barbed wire anchored around the courtroom. He also ridiculed Chauvin’s talk about Chauvin’s trial, calling it the “trial of the century,” saying it was up to the jury to do the “right”.
Then he led the crowd chanting, “The whole world is watching!”
Inside the courtroom, Derek Chauvin, in a blue jacket and black mask, was following the proceedings intently, writing on a notebook.
MH Nelson argued that the noise surrounding the trial and subsequent violent unrest in Minneapolis would make it impossible to find a neutral jury in Hennepin County. But Judge Peter Cahill said last year that moving the trial would likely not solve the problem because “no corner in Minnesota” is shielded from pre-trial propaganda.
The prospective jurors – who must be at least 18 years old, a US citizen and a resident of Hennepin County – were given questionnaires to determine how much they heard about the case and whether they had formed an opinion. In addition to biographical and demographic information, potential jurors were asked about past contact with the police, whether they protested police brutality and whether they believed the justice system was fair.
Some questions have become specific, such as how many times the potential juror has seen George Floyd’s arrest video, or whether he was holding a sign at a protest and what could be read there.