Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Three

The first two weeks of this trial focused on selecting 13 jurors for the criminal trial of former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin on charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the May 2020 killing of George Floyd and on Judge Cahill’s reinstatement of a third-degree murder charge. Time was also spent reacting to the surprise March12th announcement by the City of Minneapolis of its $27 million settlement of the federal court civil case for money damages by the Floyd family and to the resulting defense motions to postpone the Chauvin criminal trial and move it to another Minnesota state court, which Judge Peter Cahill denied on March 19th. [1]

The focus of this third week was the selection of three additional jurors to bring the total to 15, only 14 of whom will be chosen to sit as 12 jurors and 2 alternates on March 29 for the attorneys’ opening statements.

Additional Jury Selection [2]

On Monday one additional juror was added, a female social worker in her 20’s who said many of her clients cope with mental health issues and that this professional experience helps her to be empathetic and keep an open mind about people. Judge Cahill stated he wanted one more to bring the total to 15, one of whom would be dismissed on March 29th before opening statements.

On Tuesday the final juror was selected: a white man in his 20’s who is an accountant. He said this profession bolsters his analytical bent. He has neutral opinion of George Floyd. He wishes athletes would not kneel during the playing of our National Anthem even though he understands they are protesting racial injustice, but wishes they would find other ways to express those opinions. “Honoring the National Anthem shows “respect of those who have come before us and the system we have in U.S. I have a great sense of pride in being a U.S. citizen.”

This brings the total to 15. A multi-race woman in her 20s, a multi-race woman in her 40s, two Black men in their 30s, a Black man in his 40s, a Black woman in her 60s, four white women in their 50s, a white woman in her 40s, a white man in his 30s, two white man in their 20s, and a white woman in her 20s. 

Assuming all of them show up at 9:00 a.m. next Monday, the Judge will dismiss the 15th juror chosen today and seat the other 14 (12 regular jurors and 2 alternates).

Details on the Jurors [3]

Juror 2: A white man in his 20s. He’s from Minneapolis and works as a chemist. Because of his profession, he said, “I consider myself a pretty logical person…I rely on facts and logic and what’s in front of me. Opinion and facts are important distinctions for me.” He said he has a generally favorable view of the Black Lives Matter movement but added that “I think all lives matter equally” and that the “Blue Lives Matter” message among police advocates is a counter viewpoint that isn’t necessary. He has not viewed the bystander video of George Floyd’s death. He has visited 38th and Chicago where Floyd was killed because he and his fiancé considered moving to the area.

Juror 9: A multi-race woman in her 20s. She is originally from northern Minnesota and said she was “super excited” to receive her jury summons because she believes it’s her civic duty. She said she was eager to serve regardless of the case, but especially in Chauvin’s trial, given the gravity of it. “It’s a very important case, not just for Hennepin County…but nationwide,” she said. “It’s just something everyone’s heard about, talked about…No matter the decision, people are still going to talk about it.” She said viewing the video of Floyd’s death left her with a “somewhat negative” impression of Chauvin. “No one wants to see someone die,” she said. The woman also said she sees racial disparity in the justice system. In connection with that belief, she added that she agrees somewhat that Minneapolis police officers at times use too much force against Black suspects. She considers herself a “go with the flow” type, and assured that she can be open minded about the evidence. She is the niece of a Brainerd police officer.

Juror 19: A white man in his 30s.He works as an auditor and was chosen for the jury after expressing confidence that he could be fair.He served in a jury five years ago and was dismissed as an alternate. “I was slightly disappointed after hearing the process,” he said. “…I think it’s an important part of our society.” He said he saw at least portions of the video of Floyd’s death and had a somewhat negative view of Chauvin because “someone died, and that’s obviously not a positive thing.” At the same time, the man continued, he said he can examine the evidence “from a viewpoint of the law” before deciding whether or not the defendant is guilty.

Juror 27: A Black man in his 30s. He immigrated to the United States 14 years ago and went to school in Nebraska and moved to Minnesota in 2012. He works in information technology and lives with his wife and dog. He speaks multiple languages, including French. Learning that he was in the jury pool made him “surprised and anxious,” but he realizes it’s his civic duty. While relating to Floyd’s death and thinking “it could be anybody, it could have been you,” he also said, “I believe that I will be impartial.” He said he believes people have the right to protest, but at the same time, he realizes that businesses are shut down and damaged, and his wife is unable to make it to work. He wants to serve on the jury because “it is a service to my community and our country.”

Juror 44: A white woman in her 50s. She is a single mother who works as a high-level executive in the nonprofit sector focused on healthcare. She took the unusual step of summoning her own attorney to the courthouse. At one point, the judge halted the live video feed and cleared the courtroom of everyone except trial participants out of unspecified privacy concerns. The woman said the bystander video left her with a somewhat negative view of Chauvin, explaining that “a man died, and I am not sure that’s procedure. … Not all police are bad, but the bad-behavior police need to go.” At the same time, she acknowledged sympathy for Floyd and the officers at the scene that night, saying, “Everyone’s lives are changed by this incident … and it’s not easy for anyone.”

Juror 52: A Black man in his 30s.He said he has seen the bystander’s video of Floyd’s arrest and that “I don’t think [Chauvin] had any intention of harming anybody, but somebody did die.” When pressed about assessing Chauvin’s intent, the man said he could still “definitely look at [the case] from an objective point of view.”

Juror 55: A white woman in her 50s.She lives outside Minneapolis and works as an executive assistant in a clinical health care setting. She said she has viewed the bystander’s video, but she wrote in her questionnaire filled out months ago, “I couldn’t watch it in full, because it was too disturbing to me.” That said, she pledged that “I’m not in a position to change the law. I’m in a position to uphold the law. … He’s innocent until we can prove otherwise.” 

Juror 79: A Black man in his 40s. He believe s minorities are often arrested but disagrees with the concept of “defunding” law enforcement and said, “the police do a lot. … I would trust the police.”

Juror 86: A multi-race woman in her 40s.She is an organizational consultant who helps corporations improve personnel practices and efficiency. She is married with a son and said she spends a lot of time at ice hockey arenas. Asked about the settlement, the woman said it wouldn’t impact her. “I don’t think that declares guilt one way or the other,” she said.

Juror 89: A white woman in her 50s.She works as a nurse and lives in Edina. She assured the court she could judge the evidence fairly despite having seen portions of the viral video of Floyd’s arrest and after hearing about the settlement. The woman said her professional training would affect how she would look at the evidence. “We all use our life experiences to make judgments,” she said, which in her work include resuscitating patients in urgent situations and dispensing opiates while on the job. The judge interjected and pointed out that she can’t be “an expert witness.”

Juror 91: A Black woman in her 60s.She is a grandmother and retired marketing professional and volunteers helping children in need with their homework. She said she started watching the video of Floyd’s  arrest but stopped after four to five minutes because “it just wasn’t something that I needed to see.” The woman said she has not formed opinions about either Chauvin or Floyd and was firm in saying news of the settlement would not affect her commitment to be an objective juror.

Juror 92: A white woman in her 40s. She lives in the suburbs and works in the insurance industry. Like others, she has viewed the bystander video and was aware of the settlement but said those would not be stop her from being fair and objective as a juror. The woman wrote in her juror questionnaire months ago that she didn’t believe Floyd deserved to die and police didn’t need to use excessive force. However, she continued, Floyd was not completely innocent. She said she has generally positive views of police and opposes any defunding of their departments, but also believes “people of other races get treated unfairly” by law enforcement.

Juror 96: A white woman in her 50s. She has worked in customer service and said she is an animal lover, “especially dogs.” She said she saw the bystander video of Floyd’s arrest and wrote in her juror questionnaire months ago, “This restraint was ultimately responsible for Mr. Floyd’s demise.” That said, she pledged under defense scrutiny that she could presume Chauvin innocent as the law requires her to do.

Juror 118: A white woman in her 20s. She is a newlywed and a social worker in Wright County whose clients are coping with mental health difficulties. She was unwavering in her confidence that she could judge only the evidence presented in the trial and added that her profession has provided her with the ability to be empathetic and keep an open mind about people.

Juror 131: A white man in his 20s.He is an accountant who is married and said he is analytical thanks to his profession and could weigh the evidence fairly. He said that while he understands why athletes kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice in America, he wishes they would do so in a different manner. “I think it’s more of a respect of those that have come before us and the system that we have in the United States,” he said. “I have a great sense of pride in being a United States citizen.” He said he has a neutral opinion of Floyd and a generally favorable view of the Black Lives Matter movement, but he believes it was “a contributing factor” in the violent unrest that followed Floyd’s death.

Other Issues Regarding Jury Selection [4]

Last Friday Erik Nelson, defense counsel claimed that 2/3rds of the 326 potential jurors who were summoned for jury duty and completed the court’s questionnaire stated they had a “negative” opinion of Chauvin and a “neutral” opinion about George Floyd.

Racial bias also was raised last week by the defense striking as a juror a Black man after he had said in the courtroom that Black people like himself did not receive equal treatment by Minneapolis police and in the justice system. ”As a Black man, you see a lot of Black people get killed and no one’s held accountable for it and you wonder why or what was the decision and so maybe in the [jury] room [I will get] to know why.”

This potential jury also told the court that the used to live near the site of Floyd’s killing and frequently after someone was shot or arrested, police were known to drive through the neighborhood blasting the song “Another One Bites the Dust” on their squad car’s radio.

Jurors, by the way, are paid $20 per day by the County.

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

[1] See these posts to dwkcommentariees.com: Derek Chauvin Trial: Week One (Mar. 15, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Two (Mar. 21, 2021).

[2] Bailey & Berman, Derek Chauvin trial: Jury selection nears completion ahead of next week’s opening statements, Wash. Post (Mar. 22, 2021); Walsh & Sayle, What Happened Monday in the Derek Chauvin trial, StarTribune (Mar. 22, 2021); Walsh, Judge in Derek Chauvin trial determined to select the final juror Tuesday, StarTribune (Mar.23, 2021); Walsh & Olson, 15th and final juror chosen for Derek Chauvin murder trial; opening statements next Monday, StarTribune (Mar. 23, 2021); Bailey, Derek Chauvin trial jury selected ahead of Monday’s opening statements, Wash. Post (Mar. 23, 2021); Levinson & Cooper, The jury has been selected for Derek Chauvin’s trial. Here’s what we know about them, CNN.com (Mar. 23, 2021); Ailsworth & Eastwood, Jury Seated in Derek Chauvin Trial for Killing of George Floyd, W.S.J. (Mar. 23, 2021).

[3] Walsh & Sayle, Who are the jurors in the Derek Chauvin trial?, StarfTribune (Mar. 23, 2021).

[4] See fn. 2 supra; Norfleet, Dismissal of Black potential juror in Derek Chauvin trial prompts division on race and bias  in courtroom, StarTribune (Mar. 22, 2021).

.

Published by

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s