The Challenge of a Fair Trial for Derek Chauvin 

D.J. Tice, an opinion columnist for the StarTribune, says that Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill faces  a “staggering a challenge . . .in ensuring a proceeding that will actually deserve to be called a fair trial for Chauvin and eventually three other cops accused in the tragic and world famous death of George Floyd on a Minneapolis street last May.”[1]

This challenge springs from the fact that “many minds have long since been made up by the worldwide dissemination of the shocking initial video images of one part of Floyd’s fatal encounter with the police, and by the way his story quickly became an emblem, symbolizing centuries of racial injustice and the long history of police mistreatment of Black Americans.”

Indeed, from ” the moment this agonizing incident burst into the public’s consciousness, the presumption of guilt regarding these defendants — the open-and-shut conclusion of guilt — has been loudly declared by virtually every prominent public official who has addressed the matter. And a, well, ‘very negative’ view of the defendants has been widespread, too, among public officials and community leaders, in news coverage and commentary (including on these pages [of the StarTribune]) and everywhere else.”

This view immediately was voiced by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, then presidential candidate Joe Biden, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Minnesota’s U.S. Senators (Amy Klobuchar and Tine Smith), the Minneapolis Police chief, state public safety commissioner and Minneapolis City Council members.

But there is a serious issue of fact as to the cause of death.

“When a legal proceeding is as emotionally supercharged as this one, and has taken on such enormous symbolic significance, leaders of the community would seem to have a particular duty to urge the public to remain calm and patient, to respect the processes of law, and to withhold final judgment until all the facts and arguments from all sides have been fairly examined.” Better late than never for such a message.”

Reactions

I share these concerns, especially when “Minneapolis residents and business owners say anxiety is building  especially as. . .[Chauvin] heads to trial.” Moreover, “city and state leaders plan to bring thousands of soldiers, sheriffs’ deputies and police into the metro area” and “expect tensions will escalate as the trial . . . nears a close and people wait to see whether the jury acquits him, a decision that would cement activists’ fears.“[2]

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[1]  Tice, The challenge of a fair trial for Chauvin, StarTribune (Feb. 21, 2021).

[2] Berkel & Navratil, With Derek Chauvin trial looming, Minneapolis faces balancing act on police, StarTribune (Feb. 21, 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.

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