Derek Chauvin requests new trial, claims jury misconduct

The lawyer for ex-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin is requesting a new trial in the death of George Floyd — claiming the guilty verdict against his client was tainted by a threatened and “intimidated” jury.

In papers filed Tuesday in Hennepin County Court, attorney Eric Nelson argues that Chauvin’s murder trial should have been moved to a different city, and said publicity surrounding the trial was “pervasive” and “prejudicial.”

“The court abused its discretion when it failed to sequester the jury for the duration of the trial, or in the least, admonish them to avoid all media, which resulted in jury exposure to prejudicial publicity regarding the trial during the proceedings,” Nelson wrote, “as well as jury intimidation and potential fear of retribution among jurors….”

Nelson also accused prosecutors and Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill of “multiple errors in these proceedings,” which he said deprived Chauvin of a fair trial.

Among his claims, Nelson said prosecutors “committed pervasive, prejudicial prosecutorial misconduct,” including “disparaging” the defense — and presenting “cumulative” evidence, particularly a string of experts and police officials who testified that Chauvin used excessive force.

The lawyer also claimed the judge should have forced Floyd’s pal, Morries Hall, to testify, despite Hall’s assertion that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege if called to the witness stand. 

Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Lawyer Eric Nelson, left, and former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

Hall was with Floyd inside his SUV when police arrived and arrested Floyd and allegedly knew there were drugs in the vehicle.

“The cumulative effect of the multiple errors in these proceedings deprived Mr. Chauvin of a fair trial, in violation of his constitutional rights,” Nelson wrote.

The former cop was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s May 25, 2020, death after 10 hours of deliberations.

Floyd’s caught-on-video encounter with Chauvin and three other ex-Minneapolis police officers shows him pinned down for more than nine minutes with Chauvin’s knee on his neck.

Nelson’s motion did not appear to address the controversy surrounding Brandon Mitchell, one of the jurors in the case who was allegedly seen wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt at a Washington DC rally last year.

Jurors were grilled during jury selection about whether they had attended Floyd or BLM demonstrations, and Mitchell denied doing so. 

His motion also did not mention comments made by Rep. Maxine Waters, who had encouraged protesters to “get confrontational” if the ex-cop was cleared in the case.

Nelson had tried to have a mistrial declared over the remarks before the jury returned its verdict. Cahill denied the motion, but told him Waters “may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.”

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