The long-awaited announcement of a verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin came on Tuesday with a guilty verdict on each of three counts related to the death of George Floyd last year.
In the days leading up to that revelation, however, some public figures — notably President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) — weighed in with opinions that some pundits believe could serve as the basis for a successful appeal.
“We cannot go away”
During a trip to Minnesota over the weekend, Waters addressed protesters, delivering her message that they should become “more confrontational” if jurors brought back anything less than a murder conviction against Chauvin.
“I hope that we are going to get a verdict that says ‘guilty, guilty, guilty,'” she said, according to reports. “If we don’t, we cannot go away. We have got to get more confrontational. We have got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”
Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over the trial, was clearly frustrated by the California Democrat’s remarks, as he revealed in response to the defense team’s motion to grant a mistrial.
“I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” he said, though he dismissed the defense motion.
“I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function,” Cahill added. “Their failure to do so, I think, is abhorrent.”
“No real confidence”
Nevertheless, Biden also chose to share his thoughts about the case prior to the jury’s decision, stating: “I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict, which is — I think it’s overwhelming, in my view.”
Noted law professor Alan Dershowitz echoed Cahill’s remarks during a subsequent appearance on Newsmax TV, referencing remarks by Waters, Biden, and others as potential grounds for an appeal.
“I have no real confidence that this verdict, which may be correct in some ways, but I have no confidence that this verdict was produced by due process and the rule of law rather than the influence of the crowd,” he said.
Likewise, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy denounced the elected officials’ remarks in a New York Post op-ed as “rhetorical bombs” thrown into an already heated judicial proceeding. He concluded that Chauvin “now has a real chance of having the result overturned” because politicians who should know better “have recklessly undermined the integrity of the trial.”
For her part, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended Biden, dismissing his remarks as inconsequential because he waited until the jury had been sequestered.