Chauvin To Be Tried Separately in George Floyd Criminal Cases

On January 11, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill decided that Defendant Derek Chauvin will be tried separately starting March 8. Assuming that Chauvin is convicted of second degree murder and/or second degree manslaughter, the other three defendants, all accused of aiding and abetting those crimes–Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Keung and  Tou Thau—will be tried starting August 23.[1]

The Court’s Order[2]

Findings of Fact

“The State did not engage in any intentional violation of discovery rules. Any duplication of documents or disorganization of documents is attributable to the source” of the documents. (Para. 1.)

The State had difficulties obtaining a FBI report of its interview of Dr. Andrew Baker, but after obtaining that report the State delayed disclosing it to defense counsel for eight or nine days, which was material and inexcusable. The appropriate sanction is to expand the expert disclosure deadlines for the defense. (Para. 2.)

Chief Judge Barnette, after being advised that at least two defense counsel would need additional space in the courtroom for support staff, inspected Judge Cahill’s courtroom and concluded that it would not be “an adequate venue when enforcing social distancing.” Therefore, Judge Barnette asked Judge Cahill to consider “having less than all four defendants stand trial on March 8.” (Para. 5.)

“The physical limitations of courtroom C-1856, that largest . . .in the Hennepin County Government Center make it impossible to comply with COVIS-19 physical restrictions in a joint trial involving all four defendants beginning March 8.” (Para/ 6.)


The State’s motion to continue the trial . . . due to COVID-19 concerns is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.”(a) The Chauvin case shall take place as previously scheduled on March 8. The court’s previous order for joinder of all four defendants in one trial  is amended to sever Chauvin’s case. (b) The other defendants remain joined for trial to commence on August 23. (Para. 1.)

Jury selection in the Chauvin case will take place March 8-26 with Chauvin having 15 preemptory challenges and the State 5. In the other trial each of the three defendants shall have five preemptory challenges and the Stata 9. (Para. 2.)

The amended order of December 17 shall be amended to allow the State to “disclose expert reports and findings and complete written summaries of the subject matter for each expert’s testimony by March 1. (Para. 5.)

Chauvin’s motion for a copy of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s investigative file with date stamps is granted if such a file exists.” (Para. 7.)

 Unresolved Issues[3]

Also pending before the Court, but not resolved by the above order were Kueng’s motion to change venue and challenges to the Court’s Questionnaire to prospective jurors.


[1] Fortiti, Officer with knee to George Floyd’s neck will be tried alone, Wash. Post (Jan. 12, 2021); Bailey, Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death to be tried separately, Wash. Post (Jan. 12, 2021); Walsh, Derek Chauvin will be tried separately in death of George Floyd, StarTribune (Jan. 12, 2021).

[2] Order Regarding Discovery, Expert Witness Deadlines, and Trial Continuance, State v. Chauvin, Dist. Ct. File 27-CR-20-12646 (Hennepin County District Court Jan. 11, 2021).

[3] Pending Issues in George Floyd Criminal Cases, (Jan. 1, 2021).



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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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