June 25 is the scheduled date for the Hennepin County District Court hearing on the sentencing of Derek Chauvin for his conviction for second-degree and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter of George Floyd.
Already the State and Chauvin have submitted briefs calling for vastly different sentences. The State argued for 30 years imprisonment while Chauvin asked for time already served and probation. This blog already has opined that the State’s argument is persuasive given the court’s prior determination that there were four factors favoring upward sentencing departure and that Chauvin’s argument was ridiculous.
Now we examine Chauvin’s arguments for a new trial and impeaching the jury verdict and the opposing arguments from the State.
Arguments for and Against New Trial
Chauvin’s 42 pages of arguments for a new trial reiterate motions and arguments made and rejected by the court before and during trial: pretrial publicity, change of venue, continuance or new trial, sequestration of the jury, and alleged prosecutorial misconduct. The first 54 pages of the State’s June 16th Memorandum provide exacting details on why this Chauvin argument is not meritorious.
Arguments for and Against Schwartz Hearing
The last 11 pages of Chauvin’s brief set forth alleged acts of juror misconduct that purportedly justify a hearing to investigate alleged misconduct by two jurors: Juror 96 (Lisa Christiansen), who was an alternate released from jury duty prior to the jury’s consideration of the evidence and deliberation and Juror 52 (Brandon Mitchell).
The State, however, says these claims “are a desperate attempt to escape a lawful verdict, are barred by the law, and not supported by the facts” and should be rejected. (State’s Memorandum at 55-77.)
First, this motion cannot be granted for anything Ms. Christianson did because she was an alternate and excused by the court before the jury heard any evidence and deliberated in reaching a verdict. Moreover, she was truthful in responding to defense counsel’s questions during voir dire. (State’s Memorandum at 75-77.)
Second, Juror 52 (Brandon Mitchell) did serve on the jury and after the conclusion of the trial made public statements about the trial and the jury’s deliberations. Although such statements cannot be considered by the court on such a motion, they reveal that the jury carefully followed the court’s instructions and properly considered only the evidence, that they carefully deliberated after a preliminary vote with each juror expressing why he or she came to a conclusion of guilty on all counts.
Moreover, Mitchell in his written responses to over 69 written questions by the court and nearly 45 minutes of responding to defense counsel’s questions “extensively detailed his pre-existing views on a range of issues, including a “highly favorable opinion” of Black Lives Matter, and his prior impression of the case.
For the foregoing reasons, this blogger believes that the court should reject Chauvin’s motions and impose a sentence of 30 years imprisonment.
 See these posts to dwkcommentaries.com: Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Seven (Conviction) (April 21, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Court Finds Aggravating Factors for Sentencing (May 12, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Arguments About Sentencing of Chauvin (June 7, 2021).
 Defendant’s Notice of Motions and Post-Verdict Motions, State v. Chauvin. Hennepin County District Court, Court File No. 27-CR-20-12646 (May 4, 2021); Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendant’s Post-Verdict Motion, State v. Chauvin. Hennepin County District Court., Court File No. 27-CR-20-12646 (June 2, 2021); State’s Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant’s Post-Verdict Motions, State v..Chauvin. Hennepin County District Court, Court File No. 27-CR-20-12646 (June 16, 2021); Forliti (AP). Prosecutors: New trial not merited for ex-cop in Floyd death, Wash. Post (June 16, 2021)
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Comment: StarTribune Comments on Chauvin Sentencing
The StarTribune finally entered its commentary over tomorrow’s Chauvin sentencing hearing.
(Xiong, Judge faces wide gap in sentencing requests for Derek Chauvin, StarTribune (June 24, 2021), https://www.startribune.com/judge-faces-wide-gap-in-sentencing-requests-for-derek-chauvin/600071363)..
It adds nothing new about the various arguments.
Instead it adds the following comments and guesses from criminal defense attorneys about the likely sentence to be imposed tomorrow by Judge Peter Cahill
• A. L. Brown said, the Judge “is looking for a sentence that is sufficient to penalize Mr. Chauvin but not to destroy him for the sake of public sentiment. . . . I think that’s a really tough job right now.” Brown also believes, “we’re going to learn more about Judge Cahill than we’ll learn the law.”
• Joe Friedberg will be “very surprised if [Cahill] went above 24, 25 years and that “I don’t think he’s going to go to 30 years. It just doesn’t seem right.” Friedberg also though it very unlikely that Chauvin would say anything at the hearing.
• Several attorneys thought it unlikely that Cahill “would sentence Chauvin to the full 40 years allowed under the law. [Such] maximum prison terms are rare and reserved for defendants with lengthy criminal records.” They also are designed “to frighten defendants on some theory of deterrence.”
• “Several attorneys said there is no chance that Cahill will grant [the defense] request for probation and time served.or for a prison term lower that that recommended by state sentencing guidelines.
• Susan Gaertner, former Ramsey County Attorney, thought defense counsel’s suggestion of probation was ill advised. “Perhaps he should have started with a reasonable compromise.”
• Kevin Burke, retired Hennepin County District Judge, said, “Sentencing is the most challenging thing that a judge does, because you have a person’s life in front of you which you can impact in a lot of ways. It’s an awesome responsibility in which you get a lot of sleepless nights.”