Now that it's over (at least, now that the first trial is over - I expect it to be declared a mistrial) I can comment on some aspects of Derek Chauvin's trial for third-degree murder in connection with the death of George Floyd.
First, I've never seen so politicized a trial in this country since I came to America more than two decades ago. Consider:
- While jury selection was in progress, the city of Minneapolis settled a lawsuit by George Floyd's family for over $20 million. The prospective jurors could hardly help but be affected by this politically correct and very public admission of guilt, as the trial judge noted. That alone should have been grounds to terminate the trial proceedings on the spot, and move it to a more neutral venue with prospective jurors who would be less likely to be influenced by such news.
- During the trial, there was a constant bombardment of biased analysis of proceedings in the mainstream media. Many journalists and outlets appear to have pre-judged the outcome based on their own perspectives and prejudices. Given that the jury was not sequestered, it's inevitable that some of this propaganda must have reached at least some of them, and may have influenced their decision.
- Politicians - notably Maxine Waters, but even including President Biden - disgraced themselves by openly advocating for a "politically correct" verdict. The judge was moved to comment that their interference would be a strong card in the hand of the defense to move for a mistrial on appeal. Even after the verdict, some continued to disgrace themselves by their partisanship (take a bow, Nancy Pelosi).
- The jurors were partially doxxed by a local newspaper while they were deliberating - a crystal-clear instance of attempting to influence their deliberations. In so many words, the message appeared to be, "If you don't reach the politically correct verdict, we'll make sure people know enough about you to track you down and punish you".
Second, there's the question of the evidence presented by the prosecution. Its own witnesses confirmed many of the defense claims, so much so that the defense indicated it might call some of them back for further testimony. Stymied on the facts of the case, the prosecution proceeded to place more and more emphasis on emotional appeals to the jurors, rather than relying on verifiable evidence that could be cross-examined. This, IMHO, is one of the worst aspects of the American justice system. Emotion has no place when you're deciding on a defendant's guilt or innocence. The facts of the matter - what was done, not what might (or should) have been thought or felt or emoted - should decide the issue. To whip up emotion, over and above the facts, is to obscure and obfuscate the reality of the case.
I'm not going to comment on Derek Chauvin's guilt or innocence. I don't know all the facts of the case, and I'm not qualified or entitled to judge. I can only say that, on the basis of the evidence as presented at the trial and reported in the mainstream news media, I would not have voted to convict him. There was substantial evidence of at least negligence, if not callous unconcern, in his actions; but there was also a reasonable doubt about that evidence. Given that doubt, I could not have voted for a guilty verdict.
I hope the prison authorities in Minnesota will ensure Mr. Chauvin's safety behind bars. I daresay there are many inmates who will be motivated to try to kill or injure him, secure in the knowledge that they'll be hailed as heroes by the politically correct establishment if they do. Given the hyper-partisan views of Minnesota's Attorney-General, they may even think they could get away with such a crime scot-free. It's an open question whether Mr. Chauvin can be protected in prison, or whether he should be moved to a different state where emotions over the Floyd affair are running less high.
I expect that this first trial will be overturned on appeal, and a mistrial declared. That means we get to do it all over again. I'm not looking forward to the prospect.