MINNEAPOLIS – Faced with a parade of people with strong opinions on George Floyd’s death, attorneys in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin are fighting to identify more people who put aside their knowledge of the case and than Jurors can serve.
The court did not select any jurors on Tuesday Amid a debate between judges, defense and prosecutors about whether they could be impartial in such a high profile case. Wednesday the court replaced two jurors who were cut because they said they were influenced by the city’s historic $ 27 million settlement with Floyd’s family.
A prospective juror said Wednesday he believes blacks and minorities are not treated equally by the criminal justice system and that Minneapolis police are more likely to use violence when dealing with blacks. He was expelled from the jury by the defense.
On Thursday, Senior Defender Eric Nelson told a prospective juror, “This case is not about race.”
Some potential jurors have raised concerns about their safety if they were selected or the trauma they would endure throughout the process. A potential judge was visibly upset on Wednesday when she said her daughter was shot dead in the same area where Floyd died.
Hennepin District Judge Peter Cahill dismissed her almost immediately. “She even wiped a tear when she left, so it’s obviously traumatic for her,” he said.
Floyd, a black man, died in police custody on May 25, 2020 when the white chauvin held his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. While lying on the floor under Chauvin, Floyd shouted “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times. The The incident sparked protests around the world.
Chauvin is charged with second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter.
- Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and District Attorney Jim Rowader said Thursday they don’t think so the announcement of the civil law regulation has had a negative impact on the process.
- The court opened Thursday morning with a debate on whether prosecutors could call a forensic psychiatrist to testify about Floyd’s behavior during the fatal encounter.
- According to the court, five of the ten jurors identify themselves as white, two as multiracial and three as black. Five of the judges are in their twenties or thirties, two in their forties, and three in their fifties.
- The judge said he would rule on the defense’s motions on Friday to postpone or delay the trial and provide evidence of Floyd’s arrest in 2019.
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In an effort to find an impartial jury, senior defense attorney Eric Nelson has spent the past week and a half interviewing potential jurors for their views on racism, discrimination, color community surveillance, and black lives matter.
But on Thursday he told a potential jury that the trial of Derek Chauvin was “not about race.”
Months ago the court sent one 13-page questionnaire To people in the jury pool asking for their opinion on a variety of topics, including: whether police officers are more likely to use violence against people of color, whether people of color are treated equally in the criminal justice system, whether the police in their community make them feel safe, and how they feel about the Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter movements.
Defense and law enforcement attorneys have asked potential jurors to broaden their responses and clarify their reasoning. This has sparked some lengthy conversations about her experience with the police and discrimination.
On Thursday afternoon, a man said he did not believe that blacks and whites are treated equally in the criminal justice system. On his questionnaire, Nelson said, the man wrote that he had spoken to friends about “the militarization and systematic racism of policing in America”.
Nelson asked if the man believed that an incident in which the police stopped a person of color was more likely to end “tragically”. He said yes. The man said yes.
The judge excused him from the jury.
Ten jurors – five men and fiveWomen – so far selected for Chauvin’s trial. Given the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death – a black man who dies under the knee of a white cop – the racist makeup of the jury is a key concern. fiveAccording to the court, of the jury identified as white, two as multiracial and three as black.
A white woman in her fifties was selected Thursday morning. As a nurse working with ventilated COVID-19 patients, she said she was “neutral” to both Chauvin and Floyd.
The law enforcement and defense attorneys appeared concerned about whether she would use her professional training to clarify the jury’s questions on medical issues. The judge told the woman she could not appear as an expert witness in the jury room and she said she would follow legal instructions.
Among the other selected jurors:
- A man who was not originally from the United States but has lived in Hennepin County for two decades
- A woman who works in corporate restructuring
- A man who immigrated to the United States from Africa
- A chemist who worked on a summer camp
- A man who works in banking and teaches youth sports
- A mother of two who worried about her safety while on the jury
- A woman who said she was “super excited” to serve
- A single mother of two
- A groom who will likely have to postpone his wedding to serve on the jury
On Wednesday afternoon, Cahill put the defense in front of three more and the state in front of another. With these, the Defense took advantage of 12 of their 18 Peremptorist challenges that they can use to beat potential jurors without explaining why. The state has used six of its 10.
After the court cut two jurors who said they were affected by the city’s $ 27 million settlement with the Floyd family, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and District Attorney Jim Rowader said Thursday they believe not that the settlement violated the procedure.
Rowader said at a press conference the city had decided to move the deal forward in part because there was “no guarantee” that the deal would have been available in weeks or months. He declined to elaborate on it.
“There is no good time to clear a case, especially one as complex, involved and sensitive as this one,” he said. “It appears from the judge’s comments this week that he does not want us to discuss the settlement at this point while the jury selection is complete.”
Speaking at the press conference, Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo said authorities are planning to open the intersection where Floyd died on 38th Street and Chicago Avenue due to community concerns. Arrandondo said the decision will be based on public safety.
“The best remedy for public safety right now is to open this intersection and get it flowing again,” he said. “Many of the community voices have been saying every day that this intersection will stay closed, they will feel more hurt, they will feel more stressed, their anxiety will increase.”
The court opened Thursday morning with a debate on whether prosecutors could call a forensic psychiatrist to testify about Floyd’s behavior during the fatal encounter.
District Attorney Jerry Blackwell said Dr. Sarah Vinson was to testify that Floyd’s reaction to officers’ attempts to put him in a patrol car was compatible with the fear or panic of a sane person during a traumatic event. Prosecutors want to show that Floyd may not have been able to follow the officers’ instructions and not that he resisted the arrest.
Nelson argued that if the judge allowed it, the defense should be allowed to produce evidence of Floyd’s arrest for drug possession a year earlier. During that incident, Nelson said Floyd couldn’t resist getting into a patrol car.
Cahill said he would rule on Vinson’s testimony on Friday if he wants to make a broader decision on the admissibility of Floyd’s arrest in 2019 and defense motions to delay and postpone the trial.
The court cuts two jurors affected by the $ 27 million settlement on Floyd’s death
Cahill opened the court on Wednesday by calling back the seven jurors who sat last week and questioning them if they had been exposed to the news of the civil settlement announced on Friday.
Four of the seven jurors told the judge that they had heard of the settlement. Another said his fiancée told him there had been an evolution regarding Floyd but she hadn’t revealed any details.
“That sticker price obviously shocked me and influenced me a bit,” said one juror, a Spanish man in his twenties. The judge dismissed him from the jury.
Another juror, a white man in his thirties, said the settlement was large. “I think it would be hard to be impartial,” he said. He was also excused.
One man said he heard the news on the radio but “it didn’t affect me at all because I don’t know the details.”
Another juror knew the billing amount. She said she wasn’t as surprised by the announcement as it was by its timing. She said she could be impartial and told the judge that if other jurors raised the issue during deliberations, she would tell them it was “not part of the case”.
Cahill advised the remaining jurors to avoid the news as much as possible.
“We have seven judges again,” he said. “The jurors who I believe will remain on the jury can remain fair and impartial.”
Contributor: The Associated Press