Minneapolis – A jury selection for a former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder and manslaughter for George Floyd’s death will begin on Monday. Derek Chauvin’s trial is expected to last for several weeks, overseen by an experienced judge and discussed by both skilled lawyers. Due to the limited number of participants in the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be streamed online for viewing worldwide.
Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 after Chauvin, a white man, pressed his knees against Floyd’s neck and complained that he was handcuffed and unable to breathe. Among the key figures and elements in the trial:
COVID-19, camera and court security
Chauvin’s trial, one of the hottest criminal cases in Minnesota’s history, takes place during a dramatic pandemic. Precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have limited court space, and judges should try Chauvin ahead of the other three dismissed police officers charged with assistance and betting. became.
Judges also allow the trial to be broadcast and livestreamed, as the pandemic has almost eliminated the possibility of public seating. This is rare in states that do not routinely allow cameras in court.
City, county, and state officials are prepared for all sorts of reactions that a trial testimony or verdict can elicit. Thorny razor wires and concrete barriers surround the court and provide strict security to protect the court proceedings. City and state leaders want to avoid repeating last year’s riots that destroyed dozens of businesses and police stations.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cayhill is respected and has a reputation for being a nonsense and fair judge. He worked for the county’s public defender’s office in 1984, worked as a prosecutor for 10 years, and was the chief adviser to US Senator Amy Klobuchar, who was the county’s chief prosecutor.
Cahill has been a judge since 2007 and has been the Supreme Court Judge. He is known for being decisive and candid. He allowed video cameras in the trial over the state’s opposition and firmly adhered to his decision to start the trial in March, despite prosecutors’ concerns about the pandemic. He also refused to revive the third-class murder charges and sent a prosecutor to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that the decision had to be reconsidered and rejected the defense’s request to move the trial from Hennepin County.
A few days after Floyd’s death, the Governor of Minnesota announced that Attorney General Keith Ellison would lead the prosecution of the case. The county prosecutor’s office is still part of the case, but the extraordinary move was a victory for local civil rights advocates who said long-time Hennepin county prosecutor Mike Freeman did not have the trust of the black community.
Ellison, the state’s first African-American Attorney General, previously attended Congress and worked as a defense lawyer.
His prosecution team includes Matthew Frank, an experienced lawyer in Ellison’s office. He was recently convicted of a Minnesota woman, Royce Reese, who was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for murdering her husband in 2018. Reese became infamous after his escape. The state killed a woman in Florida and took over her identity before being captured.
Jerry Blackwell won the post-mortem amnesty of a black man who was mistakenly convicted of rape before the infamous Duluth Lynch in 1920. Stephen Schleicher, a former federal prosecutor who led the indictment of a man who kidnapped and killed Jacob Wettering in 1989.
44-year-old Chauvin began working for the Minneapolis Police Department in 2001, becoming by far the most experienced of the four police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest.
He was fired shortly after a video of a bystander of Floyd’s arrest appeared the next day. He was charged a few days later and transferred to a state prison for security reasons. He issued a $ 1 million bond in October and was allowed to live outside the state due to security concerns.
His lawyer, Eric Nelson, is one of the few lawyers in Minnesota who often represents police officers. One of his larger cases involved Amy Senser, the wife of former Minnesota Vikings tight-end Joe Senser, who was convicted of a Minneapolis chef’s 2011 hit-and-run. Nelson argued that the sensor should be sentenced to probation, but the judge sentenced her to 41 months in prison.
Nelson also attempted a murder. He won the acquittal of a Minnesota man charged with deadly shooting and killing an unarmed neighbor in 2017.
Nelson does not say whether Chauvin will testify during his trial, but many legal observers predict that Chauvin will run.
Floyd, 46, moved from Houston to Minneapolis a few years before he died hoping to find a job, but lost his job as a restaurant bouncer because of COVID-19. On May 25, an employee of a Minneapolis grocery store called police and stated that Floyd tried to hand over a $ 20 counterfeit note.
Floyd left behind a young daughter who lives with her mother in Houston. His friend Christopher Harris told The Associated Press last year that Floyd “was aiming to start anew.”
Chauvin’s fate is determined by twelve Hennepin County residents, whose name is kept secret until further court orders. Two alternative juries will be elected to hear the testimony, but will not be part of the deliberations unless necessary.
The jury candidate was sent a questionnaire to determine how much he had heard about the case and whether he had expressed his opinion. The prosecutor can block up to nine jury candidates without explaining the reason, but the defense is allowed up to 15 oppositions without explaining the reason.
Legal experts say pretrial publicity is so widespread that both sides will look for a jury who is open and happy.
In a recent interview, former prosecutor Susan Gertner said, “I don’t want a completely blank jury because it means it’s not in harmony with the world at all.” “But what you want is a jury who can set aside the opinions formed before entering court and give both sides a fair hearing.”
Follow Amy Forliti on Twitter. http://www.twitter.com/amyforliti
Find the Associated Press’s full coverage of George Floyd’s death: https: //apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd
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A key player in the trial of a former officer charged with Floyd’s death
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