Derek Chauvin's Lawyer Files Motion for New Trial, Cites Jury Intimidation
Claims jury was exposed to 'prejudicial publicity' during George Floyd murder trial
Attorney Eric Nelson called for Chauvin's conviction to be scrapped on multiple grounds, including "jury misconduct" and abuse of discretion by the court.
The court "deprived [Chauvin] of a fair trial," Nelson writes in a motion filed in Hennepin County District Court in Minnesota.
"The Court abused its discretion when it denied Defendant's motion for a change of venue … in violation of Mr. Chauvin's constitutional rights to a due process and a fair trial," Nelson adds.
The filing comes just one day it emerged that juror Brandon Mitchell attended a Black Lives Matter rally last summer where George Floyd's relatives addressed the crowd, despite telling the court he'd never been at a protest.
Mitchell was pictured at the March on Washington event wearing a "Black Lives Matter" baseball cap and a T-shirt with the words, "GET YOUR KNEE OFF OUR NECKS" and "BLM."
Nelson also argues 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.
Nelson also argued that Judge Peter A. Cahill erred when he denied the defense’s motion for a mistrial after public officials, including Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), made statements suggesting that there would be unrest unless the jury delivered a guilty verdict.
The jury was not sequestered yet, Nelson pointed out.
Such statements, throughout the trial, “was so pervasive and so prejudicial before and during this trial that it amounted to a structural defect in the proceedings,” Nelson argued.
He added that the judge erred by not sequestering the jury throughout the trial, or telling them to avoid “all media.”
In addition, Nelson accused the State of Minnesota of prosecutorial misconduct “including but not limited to: disparaging the Defense; improper vouching; and failing to adequately prepare its witnesses.”
He also said that the court should have compelled Morries Hall, the man suspected of selling drugs to Floyd, to testify.
Finally, Nelson said that the court made several other errors, including giving the jury faulty instructions, among others.
The motion did not mention recent revelations that juror Brandon Mitchell had participated in Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, DC, last summer.
Mitchell had reportedly claimed during jury selection that he had not attended Black Lives Matter demonstrations, the AP noted:
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?”
He said he could be neutral at trial.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune cited a comment by John Stiles, spokesman for the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, in response to the motion: “The court has already rejected many of these arguments and the State will vigorously oppose them.”
Chauvin is still awaiting sentencing in the case on June 25.
His bail was revoked and he is currently being held in prison.