Derek Chauvin’s Appeal of State Conviction and Sentencing for Killing of George Floyd 

In  April 2021,  a jury in Hennepin County District Court returned a verdict that Derek Chauvin was guilty on all three counts (second degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter) of George Floyd. Then in June 2021 the court imposed a sentence of 22.5 years imprisonment on Mr. Chauvin for these crimes.[1]

After Chauvin found a new law firm that was willing to take an appeal in this state case, the Minnesota Court of Appeals on January 18, 2023, heard oral arguments in that appeal. A summary of that argument follows. [2]

Arguments to Minnesota Court of Appeals

Chauvin’s attorney asserted that Chauvin allegedly failed to get a fair trial in light of the extensive pretrial publicity about the killing of George Floyd and the trial’s being conducted in a courthouse “that’s surrounded by concrete block, barbed wire, two armored personnel carriers and a squad of National Guard troops all . . . there for one purpose: in the event the jury acquits the defendant.” As a result, the court abused its discretion in denying a change of venue.

Chauvin’s attorney also argued that during jury selection one juror allegedly lied about never participating in a protest in Minneapolis. But one of the appellate judges said he did not think this juror lied because he attended a Martin L. King, Jr. rally in Washington, D.C. while  admitting  he supported Black Lives Matter and seven times said he could be a fair juror. After all of that, Chauvin’s attorney chose not to strike him as a juror.

Chauvin’s attorney also argued that the prosecutors failed to prove sufficient probable cause.

On behalf of the prosecution, Neal Katyal from Washington, D.C. said Chauvin got “one of the most transparent and thorough trials in our nation’s history. Chauvin’s many arguments  . . . do not come close to justifying reversal. Judge Cahill managed this trial with enormous care and even if Chauvin could identify some minor fault, any error is harmless. The evidence of Chauvin’s guilt was captured on video for the world to see.

Katyal also said the juror in question accurately answered the questions and repeatedly insisted he could render an impartial verdict. And the defense did not use any of its three preemptory strikes to remove him, which indicated defense satisfaction with the juror.

Conclusion

The Chauvin appeal and arguments in the state case seem a waste of effort and money in light of Chauvin’s guilty plea in the federal case when he admitted in writing that certain facts were true . . .[and] established his  guilt beyond a reasonable doubt].”[3] Those admissions included the following:

  • Chauvin, ‘while acting under color of law . . . willfully deprived George Floyd of . . . the right to be free from an unreasonable seizure, which includes the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer. [Chauvin] . . . held his left knee across Mr. Floyd’s neck, back, and shoulder, and his right knee on Mr. Floyd’s back and arm. As Mr. Floyd lay on the ground, handcuffed and unresisting, [Chauvin] . . . kept his knees on Floyd’s neck and body, even after Mr. Floyd became unresponsive. This offense resulted in bodily injury to, and the death of, George Floyd.”
  • Chauvin “admits that in using this unreasonable and excessive force, he acted willfully and in callous and wanton disregard of the consequences to Mr. Floyd’s life. [Chauvin] . . . knew that what he was doing was wrong, in part, because it was contrary to his training as an MPD officer..”
  • Chauvin “also knew there was no legal justification to continue his use of force because he was aware that Mr. Floyd not only stopped resisting, but also stopped talking, stopped moving, stopped breathing, and lost consciousness and a pulse.’ [Chauvin] . . .chose to continue applying force even though he knew Mr. Floyd’s condition progressively worsened. . . . [Chauvin] also heard Mr. Floyd repeatedly explain that he could not breathe, was in pain, and wanted help.”
  • Chauvin “knew that what he was doing was wrong—that continued force was no longer appropriate and that it posed significant risks to Mr. Floyd’s life—based on what he observed and heard about Mr. Floyd.”
  • Chauvin “admits that he failed to render medical aid to Mr. Floyd, as he was capable of doing, and trained and required to do.”

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[1] Derek Chauvin Trial:  Week Seven (CONVICTION), dwkcommentaries.com (April 21, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Chauvin Sentenced to 22.5 Years Imprisonment, dwkcommentaries.com (June 28, 2021).

[2]  Hyatt, Derek Chauvin’s attorney asks Minnesota Court of Appeals for a new trial, StarTribune (Jan. 18, 2023); Karnowski, Court asked to void verdict against ex-cop in Floyd’s murder, AP News (Jan. 18, 2023).

[3] Derek Chauvin Pleads Guilty to Federal Criminal Charges Over Killing of George Floyd, dwkcommentaries.com  (Dec. 16, 2021). Comment: Federal Court Accepts Chauvin’s Plea Agreement, dwkcommentaries.com (July 7, 2022); Plea Agreement and Sentencing Stipulations, U.S. v. Chauvin, U.S. Dist. Ct., Dist. MN, # 21-CR-108 (Dec. 15, 2001).

 

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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.

2 thoughts on “Derek Chauvin’s Appeal of State Conviction and Sentencing for Killing of George Floyd ”

  1. Comment: Criminal Prosecutor’s Opinion on Use of Chauvin ‘s Federal Guilty Plea

    A friend, who is a retired criminal prosecutor, has advised this blogger that a state or federal guilty plea or sentencing memorandum would be admissible in any sentencing related proceeding in another court to the extent the proceedings are pursuing the same issues. This is especially true if the party is taking a position that is contrary to his/her interests.

    Here, Chauvin’s federal guilty plea was against his interests and relates to the same issues in the state criminal case.

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