On January 19 the State of Minnesota asked Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill to establish one trial of all four defendants, but starting in August (not March 8).
This request asks the Court to rescind last week’s order establishing two trials in these cases: Derek Chauvin to start March 8 and the other three defendants –Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thau—to start August 23. This prior conclusion was based upon a request from the Court’s Chief Judge and upon the following finding by Judge Cahill: “The physical limitations of courtroom C-1856, the largest courtroom in the Hennepin County Government Center, make it impossible to comply with Covid-19 restrictions in a joint trial involving all four defendants beginning March 8, 2021, given the number of lawyers and support personnel the parties have now advised the Court are expected to be present during trial.”
The State’s request for only one trial in August was supported by an affidavit from Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, that made the following points:
- After asserting many medical facts about the COVID-19 coronavirus, Osterholm stated, “In light of the increased transmissibility of the new variant [of the virus], the fact that the vaccine will not yet be available to most of the public in March 2021, the length of the trial, and the number of people expected to be present at the trial, it is extremely likely that one or more of the dozens of participants in this trial—lawyers, witnesses, jurors or court staff—will contract the coronavirus during a trial held in March 2021.. . . In the event that a trial participant contracts the coronavirus during the trial, it often will not be sufficient simply to quarantine that individual and proceed with the trial. . . . In the event the Court holds a trial in this case in March 2021, the high risk of a potential superspreader event . . . could significantly increase the burdens on the health care system at a time when cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are likely to be on the rise. From a public health perspective, it is therefore extremely unwise to hold a trial in this case in March 2021.” (Paras. 47, 48, 50.)
- In addition, “Holding two separate trials in this case also endangers public health. From a public health perspective, it is far more dangerous to hold multiple trials—one in March 2021, and one in August 2021—that it would be to hold a single trial in the summer of 2021.” (Para. 51.)
Now we wait to see the reactions from the four defendants and Judge Cahill.
It is still surprising to this blogger that no one has mentioned that if Chauvin is first tried by himself and obtains a jury verdict of acquittal, there should be no need for a trial of the other three defendants who are accused of aiding and abetting Chauvin’s actions that a jury had determined to be non-criminal.
 Simons, Citing ‘serious threat to public health,’ prosecutors ask judge to reconsider holding two trials in George Floyd’s death, StarTribune (Jan. 19, 2021); State’s Motion for Reconsideration of January 11 Order Regarding Trial Continuance and Severance, State v. Chauvin, Court file No. 27-CR-20-12646 (Hennepin County District Court Jan. 19, 2021); Affidavit of Michael T. Osterholm, Court file No. 27-CR-20-12646 (Hennepin County District Court Jan. 19, 2021).
 Chauvin To Be Tried Separately in George Floyd Criminal Cases, dwkcommentaries. com (Jan. 12, 2021).