MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The defense for Derek Chauvin has motioned for a new trial, alleging the court broke Chauvin’s constitutional rights in several ways, but the chances of a new trial actually happening are “very low,” according to a legal expert.
Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, claims the court violated Chauvin’s constitutional rights for several reasons, including not allowing the trial to move outside of Hennepin County, and not sequestering the jury the entire time. He also says the jury committed misconduct, and wants a hearing to throw out the verdict.
On April 20, Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd. The jury found him guilty on all three counts of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He spent his first days of conviction in the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Oak Park Heights.
The defense’s motion for a new trial happened not long after questions began to circulate about one of the jurors, Brandon Mitchell.
Mitchell was photographed attending the March on Washington back in August, which commemorated the 57th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. In the image, Mitchell is wearing a T-shirt featuring the likeness of King, surrounded by text that reads “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks,” and “BLM.”
Mitchell said he was there to take part in a voter registration rally, not to protest. He added that he was an unbiased juror.
LEGAL ANALYSIS OF MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL
Joe Tamburino, a defense attorney not affiliated with the case, provided legal analysis for WCCO throughout the entire trial. He addressed the juror misconduct situation on Tuesday.
“Obviously the defense is under the gun. They have 15 days to do a motion for a new trial and one of the last things that they allege is the juror misconduct,” Tamburino said.
While Tamburino believes the chances of a new trial are slim, he says Judge Peter Cahill does have the power to order a new trial if he finds that Mitchell did commit misconduct.
Part of the motion from the defense is the request for a Schwartz hearing, where jurors go back to court for questioning about possible misconduct. Nelson is also asking for some more time.
“This was a very abbreviated motion. Probably the reason for that is he’s under the gun in terms of timeframe,” Tamburino said. “He’s also asking for a sufficient amount of time to properly brief or argue these issues.”
Tamburino believes the judge will grant that extra time.
“We’ll know a lot more soon about what (Nelson’s) arguments are,” Tamburino said.
Nelson is also arguing for a new trial based on what he says is the court abusing its discretion. According to Tamburino, Nelson lays out four “very legitimate” arguments.
“One is the lack of sequestration, two is that the court wasn’t making a record of many of these sidebars and arguments, three is disparaging the defense in I believe in Jerry Blackwell’s rebuttal argument during closing arguments, and four is the Schwartz hearing,” Tamburino said.
Tamburino says Nelson is arguing that the cumulative effect of all these alleged problems should be enough grounds to prompt a new trial.
For now, Tamburino says the judge has to decide whether to grant a hearing on the issue.
“If there is a hearing, that would be very interesting because it would be in open court,” Tamburino said.
Again, Tamburino says the chances of a judge granting a new trial is always low, but this was an unusual trial. A lot of the sidebar and chambers conversations weren’t recorded, which he says is highly unusual.
“There’s so many unusual things about this case,” Tamburino said. “Who knows what the outcome will be.”
Chauvin’s sentencing is scheduled for June 25.
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Source: CBS Minnesota