Derek Chauvin’s attorney has asked the Minnesota Court of Appeals for a new trial

Derek Chauvin’s attorney asked the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Wednesday to throw out the former Minneapolis police officer’s charges in the killing of George Floyd, the latest and what final courtroom proceedings in a nearly three-year-old case.

When Chauvin knelt on the unarmed Black man’s neck for more than nine minutes in May 2020, the world reacted to the video of the killing with outrage, violence and protest. or thousands. But Chauvin’s appellate attorney, William Mohrman, said the pretrial publicity — the uproar and the subsequent movement for police reform — prevented a fair trial.

“The main remedy my client is seeking is a new trial,” Mohrman told the three-member jury.

A Hennepin County District Court jury convicted Chauvin of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree murder in April 2021, and he was sentenced to 22½ years in prison in June. He later pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of violating Floyd’s civil rights and received a 21-year non-appealable sentence.

Mohrman asked the appeals court to reverse the state’s conviction or grant a new trial outside Hennepin County.

“The central issue in this appeal is whether a criminal defendant can have a fair trial in accordance with constitutional requirements in a courthouse surrounded by concrete blocks, barbed wire, two staff cars and a all the soldiers of the National Guard … one purpose: in the case that the court will confirm the accused,” he said.

Chauvin is being held at a federal prison in Tucson, Ariz., and even if he wins his appeal, he will still have to serve his federal sentence.

A decision on his appeal is expected within 90 days.

Mohrman has it represented property owners who were sued in unfavorable circumstances and won a major victory several years ago when the Eighth US Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a 101-year-old state law that made it a crime to make false political statements about a poll question.

In Chauvin’s appeal, he argued that prosecutors failed to prove sufficient cause, among other alleged legal errors outlined in his brief, and that the jury was prejudiced. since the murder and all the trials that took place in Minneapolis.

Referring to the press release before the trial, Mohrman also expressed “physical pressure on the courthouse” and the jurors’ concerns for their safety. He said that the violence that followed the killing of Floyd made this case unique. In the run-up to Chauvin’s decision, he said, the city was prepared for further upheaval if an indictment arose.

The media coverage was more extensive than any other trial in Minnesota history, he said, arguing that it was misused by the four exercise its discretion by denying the change of venue.

“The jurors who participated in this trial have a role in the outcome of the case because they live here where the violence happened,” he said. by Mohrman. “If this case is taken outside, the possibility of riots in the villages where the judges live, I believe there will be nothing.”

Chauvin’s trial was the first in Minnesota to be broadcast around the world. Minnesota is one of the few states that still bans it cameras in the courtroom, with rare exceptions. District Judge Peter Cahill allowed Chauvin’s trial to be broadcast because of the epidemic and the high level of public interest.

The appeal hearing on Wednesday was also publicized. Each party has 15 minutes to make oral arguments. A large amount of that time was focused on the location issue and Mohrman’s allegation that one juror had lied.

Brandon Mitchell, a 31-year-old black man was one of the 12 jurors who convicted Chauvin and was the first person approached. After the verdict, an August 2020 photo of him at an event in Washington, DC, to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech. “I Dream” received criticism – and reasonable grounds for an appeal.

The photo showed Mitchell wearing a T-shirt with a picture of King surrounded by the words, “GET YOUR KEE OFF OUR NECKS” and “BLM” (Black Lives Matter).

“I’ve never been to (Washington) DC,” Mitchell told the Star Tribune after the post. “The opportunity to go to DC, the opportunity to be with thousands of Black people; I thought it was a great opportunity to be a part of something.”

Mohrman argued that Mitchell lied when he said he did not participate in a protest in Minneapolis. But Judge Peter M. Reyes Jr. told him he didn’t believe Mitchell was lying because of the march he participated in outside of Minneapolis. Reyes said even Chauvin and his attorneys seemed to acknowledge the difference when Mitchell sat as judge.

Reyes said he had a hard time understanding Mohrman’s argument about the juror, who he said seemed right about BLM and “black people and different races and ethnicities not being treated fairly by the police. “

Neal Katyal, who served as U.S. attorney general during the Obama administration and was one of the special counsels in the Chauvin murder trial, stated in his oral argument that Chauvin’s lawyers asked Mitchell seven times if he could give a reasonable verdict and they decided to stay. he is on the jury.

“(Mitchell) wasn’t trying to hide the ball or anything like that. He was very clear about his views on police brutality and racism,” Katyal said.

In the case of the location, he said Cahill made it clear that even if the trial is held in a small area, the security will be exceptional and there will be similar concerns about public unrest.

Katyal said Chauvin’s appellate arguments don’t come close to reversing his convictions.

“This is one of the most clear and thorough trials in the history of our country,” he said.

Jurors heard from 44 witnesses, including bystanders and experts, and watched extensive video footage, Katyal said. They learned about Chauvin’s training and how to avoid being restrained because of the asphyxia situation, he said, “which is what killed Floyd.”

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