Wednesday, 05 May, 2021


Jury selection begins for ex-cop's trial in George Floyd murder

Grand Rapids Police Grand Rapids Michigan after marching in solidarity for George Floyd
Hannah Rogers | 10 March, 2021, 07:14

Even before the issue of reinstating a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin arose, the trial was expected to last through much of April.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill set aside at least three weeks for jury selection.

Legal experts say that the selection of the jury is crucial to the trial, and to the perception that people have of the legal process.

Mr Nelson earlier argued that pretrial publicity of the case and the subsequent violent unrest in Minneapolis would make it impossible to find an impartial jury in Hennepin County.

While jury selection has not formally begun, prosecutors and Chauvin's defense attorney did mutually agree yesterday to dismiss 16 members of the initial pool of 50 jurors.

Kueng, Lane and Thao will stand trial later this summer on charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. The Court of Appeals last week ordered Cahill to consider reinstating a third-degree murder charge that he had dismissed.

"Mr. Chauvin acted according to MPD policy, his training and within his duties", according to his lawyer, Eric Nelson.

Derek Chauvin is already facing a second-degree unintentional murder charge and a manslaughter charge.

The outcome of the trial is expected to come down to two key questions: Did Chauvin's actions cause Floyd's death, and were his actions reasonable?

Mr Floyd, who was black, was declared dead on 25 May after Chauvin, who is white, attempted to arrest him.

The judge wanted to ascertain if potential jurors had seen the video of Floyd's death or whether they had taken part in the ensuing protests which erupted into one of the largest movements ever seen in the USA, with daily marches in cities across the country, decrying police brutality and racism.

The court mailed prospective jurors an unusually detailed 16-page questionnaire previous year asking them what they knew about the circumstances surrounding Floyd's death outside a Minneapolis grocery store.

The Hennepin County courthouse where it is taking place now resembles an armed camp surrounded by concrete barriers and barbed wire fencing.

Everyone in the courtroom is required to wear a face mask.

Crump says Floyd's family is anxious.

"We're watching this trial hoping and praying and wishing for justice to be served because we didn't receive it", she said. "We are all looking for a conviction", Floyd said. "That officer took a great man, a great father, a great brother, a great uncle".

The judge has set aside three weeks for jury selection alone, mindful of the difficulties finding impartial Minneapolitans in a case that has convulsed a nation and in which an image of the victim - a selfie of Floyd faintly smiling - has fast become an global icon of racial justice.

The potential jurors - who must be at least 18, USA citizens and residents of the county - were sent questionnaires to determine how much they had heard about the case and whether they had formed any opinions. The judge then sent the potential jurors home for the day. Besides biographical and demographic information, jurors were asked about prior contacts with police, whether they have protested against police brutality and whether they believe the justice system is fair.

Judge Cahill said the trial would proceed unless the higher courts told him to stop.

Chauvin's lawyers have up to 15 peremptory challenges by which they can exclude a juror without having to cite a reason, while the prosecutors from the Minnesota attorney general's office have nine.

"We all walk into these with biases".

"We are gradually increasing in-person activities in court facilities in a safe and responsible manner that will allow the courts to fulfill our constitutional obligation, while we continue to do all that we can to protect public health and safety", Gildea said in a statement.

A questionnaire for potential jurors runs 14 pages - covering a myriad of details about the case and its impact - has been distributed to the individuals who are under consideration, in order to help select an unbiased panel.

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