crime and punishment

Eric Nelson: Derek Chauvin’s rights were violated when Judge Peter Cahill refused to change trial venue

Derek Chauvin (©Hennepin County Sheriff's Office)
Derek Chauvin (©Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office)

Represented by Eric J. Nelson, 46, of Minnesota, United States, Derek Michael Chauvin, 45, of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota is still trying to find ways to be exonerated. On April 20, 2021, he was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, 46.

Judge Peter A. Cahill presided the murder trial. The panel had 12 jurors and two alternates and out of the 12 jurors, six are white, four are African-American and two are multiracial while the two alternates are white.

On May 4, 2021, Chauvin filed an appeal for a new trial. Nelson petitioned the court and cited prosecutorial and jury misconduct, errors of law at trial and a verdict that is contrary to law.

Cahill’s refusal to change the venue of the trial is a violation of Chauvin’s constitutional rights, according to Nelson. The lawyer added that the pretrial publicity deprived his client of a fair trial.

In the petition, Nelson mentioned Morries Lester Hall, who was in a car with Floyd when Floyd was arrested by Minneapolis Police Department officers. When Hall was called to testify on April 14, 2021, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and his invocation was granted by Cahill, The New York Times reported.

Hall’s reasoning was valid, according to Cahill. But Nelson accused the court of abusing its discretion and violating Chauvin’s rights under the Confrontation Clause when it failed to order Hall to testify or in the alternative to admit into evidence Hall’s statements to law enforcement regarding his interactions with Floyd.

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Chauvin was a Minneapolis Police Department officer from January 8, 2001 to May 25, 2020, the day Floyd died. When the trial opened in the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis on March 29, 2021, prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell, 59, showed the jurors the footage of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds outside Cup Foods on Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis.

On the other hand, Nelson argued that Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career as a Minneapolis Police Department officer. The former police officer is now awaiting sentencing.

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