Chauvin trial update: Two weeks, 13 jurors seated

MGN Derek Chauvin

Many developments have occurred this week in the trial of Derek Chauvin, one of four former Minneapolis police officers charged with murdering George Floyd. Below are highlights of the past week of jury selection.

Thirteen jurors have been selected in two weeks. At least three of the jurors chosen have relatives or friends in law enforcement. 

Current jury make up

  • Five White women, four of whom are in their 50s.
  • Two African immigrants who are Black in their 30s.
  • Two White men, both younger 20s and 30s.
  • One African American man in his 40s.
  • One African American woman in her 60s.
  • One multiracial woman in her 20s. 
  • One multiracial woman in her 40s.

Stray Thoughts & Analysis

It’s important to note that the vast majority of the potential jurors and selected jurors expressed problems with the way that Floyd was treated and had at least a somewhat negative opinion about Chauvin.

Another interesting aside is that during the voir dire, neither attorney for the prosecution Steve Schleicher or Matthew Frank have asked potential jurors if they could convict a police officer if the evidence dictated a conviction.

On Friday, Judge Cahill ruled that the trial would not be delayed or moved out of town, as requested by the defense. He said he didn’t think the publicity around the trial would die down any time soon. He also didn’t think that moving the trial would make any difference. “I don’t think there’s any place in the state of Minnesota that has not been subjected to extreme amounts of publicity in this case,” the judge said.

Judge Cahill will allow the defense to use some of a videotape of Floyd’s 2019 arrest. Cahill said it shows evidence of Floyd’s medical condition that is similar to his 2020 arrest.  Cahill said of the tape, “We have medical evidence of what happens when Floyd is faced with virtually the same situation.”

From a lay person’s perspective, it is not clear what one arrest has to do with the other, considering the 2020 arrest resulted in Floyd’s death—unless, of course, the defense is going to argue that Floyd killed himself.

Judge Cahill denied the prosecution a medical expert witness who could describe what Floyd was going through as Chauvin applied pressure to his neck.

Perhaps the biggest controversy of the week was the exclusion of Juror#76, who may have been a victim of White people’s doubtfulness about Black people, especially Blacks from the hood.

Of note was the fact that the prosecution did not fight for his exclusion, and did not use a Batson challenge even though it appeared appropriate as it was clear he was excluded primarily because he shared his lived experience as a Black man encountering the police in his neighborhood.

It’s not clear why he was not believed when he said he could be fair and impartial when jurors with friends and or relatives in law enforcement were believed when they said they could be fair and impartial.

Former Hennepin County Public Defender Mary Moriarty wrote about the dismissal of Juror #76 in her latest MSR Legal Insights column. She questioned his exclusion asking, “Why is somebody that knows nothing about the MPD (Minneapolis Police Department) or discrimination a fairer juror than someone who lives it?’

It appears that the judge wants to seat 15 jurors, meaning 12 seated and three alternates, which will be made clear next week. Opening statements are set to start as scheduled on March 29.

About Mel Reeves

Mel Reeves is the community editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He welcomes reader responses at mreeves@spokesman-recorder.com. Find his personal blog at fighthepowerjournal.com.

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