Eric Nelson, the attorney for Derek Chauvin, has filed for a new trial, claiming that the jury that judged he was guilty of murdering George Floyd had been tainted by media coverage.
Nelson filed the request for a new trial on Tuesday, with Chauvin’s lawyer basing the motion on the grounds of misconduct by the jury, along with arguments suggesting that the because jury had not been sequestered, it received what was likely biased coverage from the media as a result, and various prosecutorial misconducts.
Nelson argued in the filing that the publicity during the proceedings threatened the fairness of the trial, even amounting to “intimidation” of expert witnesses for the defence. “Not only did such acts escalate the potential for prejudice in these proceedings, they may result in a far-reaching chilling effect on defendants’ ability to procure expert witness – especially in high-profile cases, such as those of Mr. Chauvin’s codefendants – to testify on their behalf,” the motion notes. “The publicity here was so pervasive and so prejudicial before and during this trial that it amounted to a structural defect in the proceedings.”
The jury was, of course, completely subject to being influenced by such media coverage, Nelson claimed in the filing, and that having the jury not be sequestered was a big failure of the court, especially given that the jurors could have felt a fear of retribution if they did not vote to convict. Such a fear was detailed by Lisa Christensen, an alternate witness in the trial who lives in Brooklyn Center, and who later told the press that she “didn’t want to go through the rioting and destruction” again, and was “concerned” about people coming to her house if they were “not happy with the verdict.”
A section in the motion regarding jury misconduct has also raised eyebrows, as questions are beginning to circulate regarding one of the jurors, Brandon Mitchell, who was photographed attending the March on Washington in August last year, wearing a t-shirt that featured a photo of MLK Jr, accompanied by the slogan “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks,” and “BLM.” When interviewed for the jury, Mitchell had said that he had never attended protests on police brutality in Minnesota or anywhere else.
Mitchell even went on a television show, encouraging people to say yes to jury duty in order to promote social change. “I mean it’s important if we wanna see some change, we wanna see some things going different, we gotta into these avenues, get into these rooms to try to spark some change,” Mitchell said. “Jury duty is one of those things. Jury duty. Voting. All of those things we gotta do.”
You can read Nelson’s motion in full below:
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