Derek Chauvin, the police officer who was convicted on several murder charges after kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for almost nine minutes, is appealing his state murder convictions on the grounds that he did not receive a fair trial.
A lawyer for Chauvin appeared before a Minnesota appeals court on Wednesday asking for the convictions to be thrown out due to procedural and legal errors in the case.
Chauvin got 22 1/2 years in prison on second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges. He is also serving 21 years concurrently on a federal civil rights charge.
His attorney William Mohrman argued that because the pretrial publicity was massive compared with other trials, that the trial should have been moved out of Hennepin County and the jury sequestered for the entirety of the trial.
Many factors prejudiced trial
Among the many factors that prejudiced the trial, Morhman listed the riots, the police department’s $27 million settlement to Floyd’s family announced during jury selection, and the extra security at the courthouse.
He also accused the prosecutors of misconduct and the judge of excluding evidence that could have helped Chauvin’s case.
The prosecutors argued back that the pretrial publicity covered the whole state, so moving the venue would not have helped. Cahill also took special pains to seat impartial jurors and shield them from outside influences, they said.
Even if Chauvin wins his appeal, he will still have to serve the federal sentence. So far, he is only appealing the state convictions, but it would absolve him of the murder charges, which might allow him to have a better life after he gets out of jail.
Decision in 90 days
The appeals court will decide whether to respond to the brief within 90 days.
Some feel that Chauvin was railroaded because people needed someone to blame for Floyd’s death.
During the trial, some argued that his knee was not positioned on Floyd’s neck in a way that would have restricted his airway, which means at most, his conviction should have been for negligence for not getting help when Floyd passed out.
Some also argued that Floyd had a lethal dose of fentanyl in his system, and would have died regardless of what Chauvin did.
If these positions are presented in court now that the passion surrounding the situation has died down, it may yield a more impartial verdict than the original one.
In all likelihood, however, Chauvin will continue to bear the brunt of our national outrage at the way in which police have seemed to treat Black men for decades, whether or not his conviction is ever overturned.