Chauvin’s lawyer asks for a new trial because the court, the prosecutor’s office, and the jury violated Chauvin’s constitutional right to a fair trial.
Former police officer Derek Chauvin on Tuesday asked the district court in Minneapolis to hold a new trial in his case. Two weeks ago, a jury found Chauvin guilty of murdering an African-American man, George Floyd.
In a motion filed today with District Court Judge Peter Cahill, Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, argues that his client was denied a fair trial. In addition, according to the lawyer, during the trial, the prosecutor’s office and the jury members committed “illegal actions,” the judge made mistakes, and the sentence imposed on Chauvin was contrary to the law.
On April 20, a 12-person jury found 45-year-old Chauvin guilty of all three charges against him. The trial lasted three weeks, during which 45 witnesses to the death of George Floyd were heard, including passers-by, police officers, and medical experts.
As stated in the motion, the fact that the judge did not consider it necessary to isolate the jury during the trial to save them from the influence of external factors, including the media led to the fact that the jury members were “intimidated” and were guided in reaching a verdict by “fear of possible retribution.”
The conviction of a police officer – a rare occurrence in American history -was, according to Reuters, an important milestone in the “tense history of race relations” in the United States and a symbol of condemnation of the way law enforcement officers treat black Americans.
Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison.
According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), the motion was filed after the impartiality of one of the jurors was questioned – a photo appeared on social media showing juror Brandon Mitchell participating in a rally against racism.
Lawyers previously admitted that the defense of Сhauvin could use this circumstance to appeal the verdict. This fact is not mentioned in the text of the petition.
According to France-Presse, in a photo taken during the rally, 31-year-old Mitchell is wearing a T-shirt with the image of the defender of the rights of African Americans Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the inscription “Take your knee off our neck” and the abbreviation of the BLM – movement Black Lives Matter.
Mitchell was one of two jurors who revealed their identities after the high-profile trial ended. The questionnaire, which was filled out by all the jury candidates, asked about their participation in the protests against police brutality that took place after the death of Floyd, who died on May 25, 2020.
Mitchell answered this question in the negative, confirming that he is committed to being impartial in making a decision. In an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, he said that the photo was taken at a march that took place in Washington in August 2020 in honor of the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Jeffrey Frederick, an expert on jury selection, in an interview with AFP, called Mitchell’s answer “technically correct” because the event held in Washington was a commemorative march, not a protest.
“The judge will have to question the juror and determine whether he acted biased, whether he lied during the interview or when filling out the questionnaire,” Frederik said in an interview with AFP. The judge will then decide how much this circumstance affected the outcome of the trial. According to the expert, judges rarely make decisions on the cancellation of the sentence and the appointment of a new trial in connection with the illegal actions of the participants in the proceedings.