U.S. Supreme Court Denies Derek Chauvin’s Petition to Review His State Court Conviction for Murder and Manslaughter of George Floyd

On November 20, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court without opinion denied Derek Chauvin’s petition for review of  his state court conviction for the murder and manslaughter of George Floyd in May 2020.[1] It thus appeared that this state court criminal case was over as was Chauvin’s federal guilty plea, criminal conviction and sentencing for the killing of George Floyd. However, as discussed below, a recent development in the federal case raises the question of whether one or both of those cases could be reopened.

Prior State Court Proceedings[2]

Chauvin’s state court conviction resulted from an April 2021 Hennepin County jury verdict that he was guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The following June Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill sentenced him to 22 ½ years in prison for those crimes.

Chauvin’s appeal of that conviction was rejected by the Minnesota Court of Appeals in April 2023 with a 50-page opinion and the Minnesota Supreme Court in July 2023 denied his appeal from same without opinion.

That Minnesota Supreme Court decision was then challenged by Chauvin’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court,  which just denied that petition.

Derek Chauvin’s Federal Court Proceedings[3]

In  May 2021, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota filed a criminal complaint against Chauvin and the other three Minneapolis ex-policeman over the killing of George Floyd.

Without a trial Chauvin pled guilty in December 2021 to these charges.  In that guilty pleaChauvin 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.”

In July  2022 U.S. District Judge Magnuson sentenced Chauvin to 245 Months for Depriving George Floyd and John Pope [a teenager in a different case] of Their Federal Civil Rights.

It thus appeared that this federal case was over while Chauvin concurrently served his federal and state sentences in a federal prison in Colorado.

Recent Chauvin Challenge to Federal Conviction and Sentencing[4]

However, on November 13, 2023, Derek Chauvin (without legal counsel) filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota to vacate his conviction and sentencing by that court, based on his guilty plea, for the murder and manslaughter of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020.

The asserted basis for this motion was the opinion of a pathologist, Dr. William Schaetzel, who had never examined the Floyd corpse and never testified in any of the criminal cases, but said based on review of certain papers that Floyd did not die from asphyxia from Chauvin’s actions, but from complications of a rare tumor called paragangliona that can cause a fatal surge of adrenaline.

This development will be explored in a subsequent post.


[1] Hyatt, U.S. Supreme Court rejects review of Derek Chauvin’s latest appeal attempt, Star Tribune Nov. 20, 2023) Supreme Court rejects appeal of former Minneapolis police officer convicted of killing George Floyd, APNews (Nov. 20, 2023)

[2] 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);Derek Chauvin’s Appeal of State Conviction and Sentencing for Killing George Floyd, dwkcommentaries.com (Jan. 23, 2023); Minnesota Court of Appeals Affirms State Court Conviction of Derek Chauvin for Killing George Floyd, dwkcommentaries.com (April 19, 2023); Derek Chauvin Asks Minnesota Supreme Court To Review His Conviction for Killing of George Floyd, dwkcommentaries.com (May 18, 2023); Derek Chauvin Will Ask U.S. Supreme Court To Review His State Court Conviction for Murder and Manslaughter of George Floyd , dwkcommentaries.com(July 21, 2023); Derek Chauvin Files Petition for U.S. Supreme Court Review of His State Court Conviction for Murder and Manslaughter of George Floyd, dwkcommentaries.com (Oct. 25, 2023).

[3] Federal Criminal Charges Against Ex-Policemen Over George Floyd’s Killing, dwkcommentaries,com (May 7, 2021); Derek Chauvin Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges Over George Floyd Killing and Excess Force Against Teenager ,dwkcommentaries.com (December 16, 2021);  Federal Court Sentences Derek Chauvin to 245 months (20.4 Years) for Depriving George Floyd and John Pope of  Their Federal Civil Rights, dwkcommentaries.com (July 8, 2022); Comment: Federal Court’s Criminal Judgment for Derek Chauvin, dwkcommentaries.com (July 9, 2022).

[4] Karnowski (AP), Ex-officer Derek Chauvin makes another bid to overturn federal conviction in murder of George Floyd, StarTribune. com (Nov. 14, 2023) Krauss, Derek Chauvin files motion attempting to overturn federal conviction, StarTribune (Nov. 15, 2023) Price, Derek Chauvin claims new evidence shows he didn’t cause George Floyd’s death, attempts to overthrow conviction, Fox News (Nov. 15, 2023) Naham, Convicted murderer Derek Chauvin’s prison emails revealed as he cites pathologist’s alternate theory George Floyd ‘literally scared’ to death, Law & Crime (Nov. 15, 2023) Motion To Vacate Conviction and Sentence under 28 U.S.C. SECTION 2255, U.S. v. Chauvin, Case No. 21-CR-108-PAM, U.S. Dist. Ct. MN (Nov. 13, 2023).