biographical data

Eric Nelson biography: 13 things about Derek Chauvin’s lawyer

Eric J. Nelson is a criminal defense lawyer from Minnesota, United States. He was 46 years old when he represented Derek Michael Chauvin, one of the four former Minneapolis Police Department officers charged in the death of African-American security guard George Floyd.

Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He was found guilty on all three counts on April 20, 2021.

Originally, Chauvin was represented by Thomas “Tom” Kelly of Kelly and Jacobson. Nelson replaced Kelly, who told Reuters he gave up Chauvin’s case for medical reasons.

On the first day of Chauvin’s trial on March 29, 2021, prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell revealed that Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck on May 25, 2020 for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, not 8 minutes and 46 seconds as originally reported. In Nelson’s opening, he claimed many interviews and documents would prove his client is not guilty and said, “The evidence is far greater than 9 minutes and 29 seconds.”

Nelson is a frequent speaker on criminal law throughout Minnesota and he serves as a judge for moot court and mock trial competitions. He is a contributing author to the Minnesota Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Deskbook, a comprehensive source for DWI attorneys in Minnesota.

Licensed since May 2001, Nelson has been practicing criminal defense since December 2001 and is admitted to practice before all state courts in Minnesota and Wisconsin, USA and the federal bar in Minnesota and the eastern and western districts of Wisconsin. Here are 13 things about the lawyer:


  1. From 1988 to 1992, he attended Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota.
  2. From 1993 to 1996, he attended Eastern College in St. Davids, Wayne, Pennsylvania, USA. He graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in history.
  3. From 1998 to 2000, he attended William Mitchell College of Law, now called  the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, where he earned his Juris Doctor degree.
  4. In 2001, he was admitted to practice law in Minnesota. In the same year, he became a member of the Douglas Amdahl Inn of Court.
  5. In February 2005, he became a managing partner of the Halberg Criminal Defense firm, the largest firm in Minnesota with 10 lawyers exclusively doing criminal defense work.
  6. He was selected to Rising Stars from 2005 to 2013. He was selected to Super Lawyers from 2014 to 2020.
  7. In 2006, he became a member of the Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.
  8. In 2007, he was admitted to practice law in Wisconsin. He represented clients in Dunn, St. Croix, Barron and Washburn counties including Mark Kevin Johnson, a pastor of the Creek Community Church in Maple Grove, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin who pleaded guilty after being cited for engaging in prostitution.
  9. In 2009, he was admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Court District of Minnesota. In the same year, he represented former Hopkins High School basketball player Anthony DiLoreto, who was accused of participating in a bank robbery in Wisconsin in August 2008. DiLoreto pleaded guilty and was given a three-year probation and 90 days in jail.
  10. In 2012, he represented former Minnesota Vikings professional football player Joe Senser‘s wife Amy Senser, who was convicted for the 2011 hit-and-run death of Laotian immigrant Anousone Phanthavong, a chef in the Minneapolis restaurant True Thai. Amy was sentenced to 41 months in prison in July 2012 and was released from prison in April 2014.
  11. In 2013, he unsuccessfully defended Roger Holland, who was charged with murdering his pregnant wife and their unborn child and convicted of first-degree murder and second-degree murder.
  12. In 2015, he joined the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA) Legal Defense Fund (LDF) Attorney Panel. In the same year, he represented Levi Acre-Kendall, who was acquitted after being accused of stabbing a fisherman to death during a fight along the St. Croix River in Wisconsin.
  13. In 2018, he was hired as co-counsel with Earl Gray to defend Lindstrom, Chisago County, Minnesota resident Carl P. Anderson, who was charged with second-degree murder for shooting his neighbor Donn Allan Johnson during a dispute over access to a private lake in February 2017. Anderson was acquitted in May 2018.

23 replies »

  1. Police body-cam-video show G.Floyd stating clearly before officers have attempted to put him in the police car, that he could not bread.
    Thank Floyd ckicked the door open and jumped, that mandated force to subdue.

    That was a clear evidence of an on-coming heart-attach, the very common cause of the drugs in his body.

    Thousands die of hart-attach caused by Fentanil in US every year.
    He was breathing, as he could speck, but the oncoming hart-attach reduces the blood-flow to the brain, and it feels as not beeing able to breath. Have any cardiologist testify to that!!!!

    Officer Chauvin made an error of not letting up Floyd once he was no longer resisting arrest.
    Bur had died of hart-attach even if have not seen any police that day.

    You have four clients, have four well-known cardiologists testify to that!!!!
    The body-cam backs up the facts !!!!!!


    • he could not “bread” hmmmm ok
      “on coming hart attach” i think you mean heart attack

      thousands die of hart attach in uk every year hmmm heart attack
      yes he was breathing as he could speak
      im not going to correct you anymore cause your comment makes no sense so my guess is your not good with English
      but Chauvin made fatal errors cause when Floyd passed out Chauvin should of removed his knee which he failed to do even though Floyd was no risk to him.
      plus if Floyd did have drugs in his system he would of been sleepy but he wasn’t and as everyone may know opiates in your system causes sleepiness

      Liked by 1 person

      • Everyone knows opiates make you sleepy…okay. I’m not sure I agree with that but how about the methamphetamine found in his system? That doesn’t make you very sleepy.


      • any evidence of that being in his system? cause at point of autopsy no evidence of drugs at all
        and meth does make you sleepy after you come down from the high and at no point was he found to be sleepy before he died
        his autopsy result was death by asphyxiation


      • It sounds like none of you listen to this trial. Every professional would disagree with what you are trying to say Vincent. There were such low doses of both those things. It’s completely ignorant to think he would have died from those drugs that day. He was suffocated to the death. That’s that. There is no argument here unless you are in denial of facts. Chauvin should be put behind bars for life. It’s extremely sad that police see it as an incentive to kill for paid leave and retirement pension as well as Paid full time leave for the traumatic event they call it. This should 100% be seen by anyone in question that qualified immunity is only something bad cops need. If they were doing their job they wouldn’t need it.


      • @bill: hmmm…. so the other guy is not good at English. Looks like you are not either:
        “…my guess is YOUR not good with English” s/b YOU’RE,
        “…correct you anymore CAUSE” s/b BECAUSE,
        “…Chauvin should OF” s/b should HAVE,
        “…in his system he would OF…” again, s/b would HAVE.
        My guess is you’re not good w/English either! lol


    • i feel bad for Derek Chauvin i don’t think he meant to kill George
      it’s hard bring a cop a situation can change in seconds
      The Floyd’s got there money
      George was no CHOIR BOY he’s been in jail for armed robbery’ into drug etc…
      Derek sent his condolences.
      he’s lost his freedom his job his family
      He was a cop for nineteen years
      i hope they will keep away from the other prisoner’s


  2. Seems like a nice, reasonable guy. They’re already pulling to race card against him for simply offering a defense. The fact that the Floyd couldn’t breathe before the knee is more than enough reasonable doubt. Glad there was no plea deal. If the Minneapolis jury convicts, I’m sure he’ll get out on an appeal.


    • WTF are you talking about? cognitive dissonance and disillusion much? Maybe watch the trial.

      Maybe I’m misunderstanding your point. Watching the trials for the last few days there is no one that has concluded that Chauvin didn’t kill him. Not only was his knee on his neck but he was yanking his handcuffed hand to put more pressure down.
      It’s completely ignorant to think he would have died from those drugs that day. He was suffocated to the death. That’s that. There is no argument here unless you are in denial of facts. Chauvin should be put behind bars for life. It’s extremely sad that police see it as an incentive to kill for paid leave and retirement pension as well as Paid full time leave for the traumatic event they call it. This should 100% be seen by anyone in question that qualified immunity is only something bad cops need. If they were doing their job they wouldn’t need it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • i didn’t say anything about drugs and killing floyd ive always said it was chauvin and his knee.
        ive watched all 9 days so far and court cases are not normally my bag.
        after watching all of the videos (well most of them anyway) i knew there was much more to this than met the eye

        thats why is said to another comment that his autopsy result was death by asphyxiation


      • Actually, there is no one that has concluded that Chauvin kill Floyd. Body Cam even show that Chuavins knee was NOT on Floyds neck but on Floyds shoulder blade. Autopsy has also stated, that there was no bruises on Floyds neck, and that he was not choked by Chauvin. Get your facts straight, Mitchell.


      • his left knee was on floyds neck, his right knee was on his shoulder blade that was shown in both bodycam footage and other video footage and also still photos


      • he would be alive if he simply complied. There is no doubt there was excessive force. No doubt there is reason to convict the officer. But this will only cause more uneducated men black and white to stand up to law enforcement, resist and fall fate when all they have to do is comply. the officer killed him not doubt but not on all three counts of murder. There was way too much media bias from the start and i blame the social media groups and news outlets that did not give him a unbias view. I am scared for what we are becoming, but what the hell schools teach its okay if you dont turn your home work, just bring it tomorrow or have get a note from your Mom saying why you couldn’t do it. be a victim! we are fucked


      • Floyd was killed by the knee on the neck no question in my mind . Very sad very wrong . Derrick needs to take more class in police force .


  3. Bruising or lack there of is irrelevant. Hi could not inhale due to the pressure between the road and those officers on his back. Shallow breaths let you talk but not get oxygen down to the sacs that exchange CO2 with O2. He died from low blood oxygen levels as evidenced by the convulsive death throws between 8:24 and 8:25. Claiming that if you can talk you can breath is ridiculous.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What really surprises me is that Nelson hasn’t emphasized on pushing the fact that Floyd lied about his breathing. I say this because he said he was claustrophobic and clearly wasn’t. Let’s get real!!! He had no problem sitting in the Mercedes so there blows his excuse of being claustrophobic. By Nelson not putting emphasis on Floyd lying by bringing this up, he makes the other officers insensitive to Floyd having a breathing problem. If he lied about being claustrophobic then he probably also lied about not being able to breathe. He pulled this same resistance a year earlier when he was arrested. Again, VERY BAD that Nelson hasn’t pushed my theory.


    • They still have closing statements. I’m thinking Nelson will remind the jury of Floyd’s cries that he couldn’t breathe while fighting with the officers. May also emphasize the point that Floyd had just fought his way through 3 officers to get out of the car. Did he seem like a fragile person who would die while being restrained? It was a genius move to show the jury video of Floyd’s arrest from 2019. It was almost creepy how similar Floyd behaved in both cases.


  5. What Chauvin did was despicable. Period. There are many good police officers, but he is a completely rotten apple and there should be no place for his ilk in any police force.

    It is obvious to anyone with eyes that he murdered a man because he wanted to show Floyd, the crowd, and his fellow officers that he is a ‘big man’ and he could do whatever he wanted. Was killing Floyd premeditated? No. Did Chauvin cause the death of a Floyd? Absolutely. If he had let Floyd breathe as soon as Floyd stopped resisting, Floyd would still be alive. Period. When Chauvin intentionally kept his knee on Floyd’s neck to show his dominance over him, he caused the death of Floyd. That is murder. Plain, pure and simple.

    If we are going to be a civil society, we need to remove people like Chauvin fron our society when they commit murder; intentional or not. He needs to be convicted and pay for what he did. Period.

    As to Nelson, defense attorney, I,for one, am glad he is giving his all to Chauvin’s defense. Although there is zero excuse for what Chauvin did and I sincerely can’t believe that anyone who is open minded can’t see the absolute guilt of what Chauvin did, it is important that Chauvin get the best defense possible. That way, when he is convicted, there won’t be an excuse to turn over his conviction if/when he appeals. As a believer in democracy, I want Chauvin to get a fair trial so we can put him away for as long as possible and get his worthless ass out of our society.


  6. If Derek Chauvin broke the law in what he was doing to George Floyd putting his knee on is neck and the other police officers who were there and done the same training as a police officer why did they not stop him if they knew he was doing the wrong restraint when arresting George Floyd I am from the UK and i watched the trial on TV.
    I was amazed when i heard that the president of the USA made a phone call to the floyd family agreeing that the evidence was overwhelming whilst the jury were in debate then telephoning them again to congratulate them on the outcome of the case.

    George Floyd was a big man a kind man a generous person according to his family but he took drugs tried to off load bad $20 bills not the first time he was stopped by the law nothing said or proven he suffered from claustrophobia he was to me resisting being arrested i personaly think the police officer was doing his job and I’m afraid he was going to be guilty before he even got into court


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