Derek Chauvin's lawyer has requested a motion for a new trial, citing jury misconduct and the court's abuse of jurisdiction, just two weeks after he was convicted of George Floyd's death. In a petition filed in Hennepin County District Court in Minnesota, attorney Eric Nelson said that the court deprived Chauvin of a fair trial.
Derek Chauvin lawyer claims the court abused its authority during trial
Nelson wrote on the motion, "The Court abused its authority when it rejected Defendant's motion for a change of venue... in breach of Mr. Chauvin's constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial." The filing comes just one day after it was revealed that juror Brandon Mitchell while telling the court he had never been to a protest, attended a demonstration last summer where George Floyd's relatives spoke to the crowd.
According to Daily Mail, experts believed the discovery might be grounds for the cop's appeal, but Nelson's petition did not include the photo or the juror in his list of complaints. In the death of George Floyd on May 25, Derek Chauvin, a white man, was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, second-degree manslaughter, and third-degree murder.
Evidence presented at trial pointed at Chauvin holding down Floyd's neck with his knee for 9 1/2 minutes while the Black man pleaded that he could not breathe and went motionless. Floyd was accused of using a bogus $20 bill to purchase cigarettes at a convenience shop, and Chauvin and three other officers were trying to apprehend him.
When the court dismissed Chauvin's motion for a new trial on the basis that publicity during the hearings undermined the integrity of the trial, Nelson argued the court violated its discretion. Nelson said that the case's coverage was so pervasive and prejudicial that the prosecutions suffered from a structural flaw.
The motion claims Derek Chauvin was deprived of a fair trial
Derek Chauvin's lawyer further argued that the court failed to sequester the jurors during the proceedings, claiming that the jury was subjected to prejudicial publicity and jury coercion, excluding his client from having a fair trial. He said that certain jurors might have been afraid of retaliation if they voted a certain way during the trial.
The petition was filed a day after concerns about juror Brandon Mitchell's impartiality were presented. Mitchell is seen in a photo shared on social media on August 28 in Washington, DC, commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech during the 1963 March on Washington.
Before the trial, all prospective jurors were asked to complete a questionnaire asking if they or someone close to them had engaged in protests against police brutality or the use of force. The sole juror to comment openly after convicting Chauvin, Brandon Mitchell, told The Star Tribune in Minneapolis this week that he had replied no to the issue.
Few conservatives have jumped on the revelation as evidence that the decision could be reversed, NY Times reported. But legal analysts say it is unlikely that Derek Chauvin will win an appeal on that basis.
Mitchell, who did not respond to calls for comment, told The Star Tribune that he was at the Washington rally to honor Dr. King and the civil rights movement, not to protest police brutality. "I really felt it was a wonderful chance to be a part of this being among thousands and thousands of Black people," Mitchell said as further reported by NY Times.
According to Mary Moriarty, the former chief public defender of Minnesota's Hennepin County, the motion is expected, and nearly all of the points made were already raised during the trial. Attorneys also do this to preserve future appeal issues.
The BK Law Group stated that requesting a new trial may be an intermediary move for criminal suspects before bringing an appeal. Nelson repeatedly urged Judge Peter Cahill to sequester the jury during the trial due to the high level of public involvement in the case. And he specifically brought up Congresswoman Maxine Waters' statement, made before deliberations, asking demonstrators to be more confrontational if Chauvin is not convicted.
The motion said it resulted in jury coercion and possible fear of retaliation. "I believe he (Nelson) wants a general investigation, which the judge would not allow. That is something I can almost assure you of," the USA Today quoted Moriarty.
One reason for the motion may be to bring alleged cases of juror wrongdoing into the legal record, which is something an appeals court will do to investigate possible issues that would include a new lawsuit, said Moriarty. Chauvin's sentencing is set for June. Last week, Minnesota's attorney general filed papers requesting that Derek Chauvin be sentenced to a longer jail term in the case, claiming that the former Minneapolis cop used brutal killing tactics as Floyd pleaded for his life.