Prosecution Requests One Trial this August in George Floyd Criminal Cases  

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).[1]

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.”[2]

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.)

Conclusion

 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.

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[1] 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).

[2]  Chauvin To Be Tried Separately in George Floyd Criminal Cases, dwkcommentaries. com (Jan. 12, 2021).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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dwkcommentaries

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.

4 thoughts on “Prosecution Requests One Trial this August in George Floyd Criminal Cases  ”

  1. Denial of Delay in Chauvin Trial in George Floyd Criminal Cases #

    On January 21, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill issued a two-page order denying the prosecution’s request for an August trial of all four defendants in the George Floyd criminal cases. It merely stated the motion “is DENIED.”
    =================

    Assoc. Press, Judge denies request to delay trial of Derek Chauvin in George Floyd’s death, StarTribune (Jan. 21, 2021) https://www.startribune.com/judge-denies-request-to-delay-cops-trial-in-floyds-death/600013270/

    Order Denying State’s Motion To Reconsider January 11, 2021 Order, State v. Chauvin, Dist. Ct. File 27-CR-20-12646 (Hennepin Country District Court Jan. 21, 2021) https://www.mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/Order01212021.pdf

  2. More Reactions to Court’s Denial of Prosecution’s Request for Two Trials in George Floyd Criminal Cases

    The prior comment to this post reported Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill’s abrupt denial of the prosecution’s motion for reconsideration of the Court’s recent order requiring the trial of Derek Chauvin alone to begin on March 8th and the trial of the other three defendants to begin August 23rd.

    Another newspaper article provides additional reactions to that most recent decision.

    Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison said, “I’m disappointed in the order. Dr. Osterholm’s affidavit is substantial and compelling. We are considering our options for next steps.”

    Retired Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner noted that the prosecution could ask the Minnesota Court of Appeals to review this decision although “the law discourages asking a higher court to review decisions that are made prior ro trial about how trial is going to go. It’s a pretty rare circumstance where a higher court would get involved at this stage.”

    Agreeing with this conclusion was Joseph Daly, emeritus professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law: “Trial judges are there to make sure due process takes place. No one likes to be told they’re wrong.”

    =====================

    Xiong. Judge rejects prosecution’s request to hold one trial in George Floyd’s death, StarTribune (Jan. 21, 2021) https://www.startribune.com/judge-rejects-prosecution-s-request-to-hold-one-trial-in-george-floyd-s-death/600013323/.

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