Prosecution’s Appellate Brief on Trials in George Floyd Criminal Cases

On January 29th the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office submitted its 59-page brief to the Minnesota Court of Appeals supporting its appeal from Hennepin County District Court orders refusing to have one trial of all four defendants this coming August.[1] A one-paragraph preview of this brief was set forth the prior day in the prosecution’s two Statements of the Case.[2]

The Brief’s Key Points

The brief stated, “This appeal involves a question of exceptional and unique importance in one of the highest-profile cases in our Nation’s history. . . .This is a matter, quite literally, of life and death.”

“The District Court disregarded the overwhelming evidence demonstrating that a trial for any of the Defendants on March 8 would be ‘extremely dangerous,’ and that it is “extremely likely that one or more’ trial participants — lawyers, witnesses, jurors, or court staff — would contract the coronavirus during a trial held in March 2021.”  Indeed, “a trial in March could have “potentially catastrophic consequences for public health.” The brief added that the trial will involve an unusually large number of witnesses and participants, as well as draw potentially thousands of demonstrators to the courthouse, exacerbating the danger.

“Instead of analyzing the factors required by [the Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure], the District Court relied on an e-mail from Chief Judge Barnette,… No provision of law allows the trial court to disregard” these Rules.

Initial Reactions

Joseph Daly, Mitchell Hamline School of Law emeritus professor, said the brief was “quite convincing. My prediction is that the appellate court is going to step in very quickly and stop this trial on March 8. This is maybe the most important trial that’s ever taken place in the state of Minnesota. It has caused a worldwide response, a social response. It has forced people to really look at the authority and power that we give police worldwide.”


[1] Xiong, Planned March trial in George Floyd’s death could be COVID-19 superspreader event, prosecutors argue to Court of Appeals, StarTribune (Jan. 29, 2021). The case number in the Court of Appeals is A21-0133, but this Brief is not yet available on its website.

[2] Prosecution Appeals Trial Dates in George Floyd Criminal Cases, dwkcommentaries.comm (Jan. 29, 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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