As most readers are aware, former police officer Derek Chauvin, along with three colleagues, is facing trial in Minneapolis for the death of George Floyd last year. However, the process of selecting a jury has proved to be fraught with difficulties, not least the reluctance of many jurors to get involved. George Parry, a former prosecutor whose analysis of the incident we discussed last year, describes the problem.
Despite vigorous opposition by the prosecution, the court has granted the defense motion that Chauvin’s trial be televised. In other words, the defense wants the world to see all the evidence, and the prosecution doesn’t. Why? Because once you get past the heavily edited and misleading video evidence and review all of the relevant proof, it becomes clear that the police did not cause Floyd’s death.
More importantly, despite its legal obligation to timely provide the defense with exculpatory evidence, the prosecution delayed production of a devastating FBI 302 report (linked to here) of a July 8, 2020, interview of Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker regarding Floyd’s autopsy. The prosecution didn’t cough up this 302 until October 28, 2020, at which time the defense learned that, in the 302, Dr. Baker “defined the mechanism of death as Floyd’s heart and lungs stopping due to the combined effects of his health problems as well as the exertion and restraint involved in Floyd’s interaction with police prior to being on the ground” (emphasis added).
. . .
There’s more, but you get the idea. No wonder the prosecution was reluctant to produce Dr. Baker’s 302. One is left to wonder at the size of the laundry bill for the prosecutors’ underpants after it landed in their inbox.
Now, as you can see, before a fair and impartial jury, Derek Chauvin would have more than a fighting chance at acquittal. But that assumes that a fair, impartial, and unintimidated jury can be drawn from amidst the traumatized population of the Hennepin County war zone.
How can Chauvin even remotely hope to receive a fair trial before an impartial and non-terrorized Hennepin County jury when the previously burned and looted city of Minneapolis appears to be primed to explode if Chauvin is acquitted?
Is there a rational juror who would ever vote to acquit Chauvin knowing that doing so would subject the juror and the juror’s family, friends, property, and peaceful existence to threats, harassment, and mob violence?
This is not some remote concern. A potential juror need only look at the draconian preparations being taken by the authorities to readily understand the very real and imminent threat of violence and destruction should there be an acquittal.
Having tried more than my share of highly contentious and high-profile cases under difficult circumstances, it is my less-than-humble opinion that there is no conceivable possibility that Derek Chauvin can receive a fair trial in Hennepin County, simply because it will be impossible to seat an unintimidated jury free from the threat of mob violence. Conducting a trial under these circumstances will serve only to put a thin veneer of pretend due process on what in reality will be a legalized lynching based on a verdict rendered by a properly and quite understandably terrorized jury.
There's more at the link.
I suppose the trial being televised will only add to the pressure on the jurors. The video record won't show how each one voted, but their faces will be on public display; so if the verdict is unacceptable to the Black Lives Matter/Antifa mob, the jurors will doubtless be targets for their displeasure. Intimidation indeed!
I have no axe to grind in relation to the outcome of the trial. I'm willing to let the evidence speak for itself. However, when the facts set out before the court may be of less concern to jurors than the potential consequences if they vote one way or another . . . under those circumstances, justice isn't blind - it's hamstrung.
I agree with Mr. Parry. It would be far better to move this trial away from Minneapolis, to a neutral venue, where neutral jurors can be selected without any potential pressure concerning the verdict. However, I'm guessing the local prosecutors don't want to abdicate their place in the limelight - or they may have been told by the local "powers that be" that the case must and will be heard in Minneapolis no matter what. In either case, justice is unlikely to be well served.