Batson challenge to two Hispanic jurors struck by defense rejected by trial court
Welcome to our ongoing coverage of the Minnesota murder trial of Derek Chauvin, over the in-custody death of George Floyd. I am Attorney Andrew Branca for Law of Self Defense, providing guest commentary and analysis of this trial for Legal Insurrection.
As a reminder, I am “LIVE Parlering” the trial in real-time over at my Parler account, which you can find using my Parler handle: @LawofSelfDefense.
First, my apologies to the Law of Self Defense and Legal Insurrection communities, because I had an unavoidable obligation this morning, and so wasn’t really able to jump onto the jury selection until around lunch time. I did “live Parler” the jury selection process after lunch, and you can find that at my Parler account, linked above.
As a result of having to “catch up” on the four hours or so of morning proceedings, however, I’m afraid that today’s Chauvin trial content is going to be a bit abbreviated.
The most important part of the day is that the first three jurors for the Chauvin trial have now been selected. Rather than do a detailed breakdown of voir dire on those three jurors in text form, I’m going to embed the video of the voir dire process for each of them here, identifying each by their assigned juror number.
It’s also notable that in the voir dire process the state used one of its peremptory strikes (leaving the state with 8 remaining peremptory strikes) and the defense used two of its peremptory strikes (leaving the defense with 13 remaining peremptory strikes).
With respect to the two strikes used by the defense, both were applied to prospective jurors of apparent Hispanic ethnicity. This led the state to make a Batson objection, which is an objection alleging that the defense is striking jurors on the basis of race or ethnicity.
Naturally, the defense argued against this position, and claimed that they had race-neutral grounds for striking both of the relevant jurors (specifically, jurors #1 and #4), and the defense arguments were compelling to Judge Cahill.
For those interested in the Batson arguments, however, I also include the video of that portion of today’s proceedings, as well:
I probably made several hundred Parler “tweets,” or whatever Parler calls posts, today, and it would be time consuming to repeat them all here, so I’ll focus on the macro rather than the micro of today’s proceedings.
Frankly, my sense was that the defense did not do a great job on voir dire.
In the context of the two jurors that the defense used peremptory strikes to exclude, I thought there were reasonable arguments to be made to exclude those jurors for cause, which would have saved those two precious peremptory strikes for later in the jury selection process.
Further, I found one of the accepted jurors, Juror #9, to be completely insincere in her claims that she could be unbiased and impartial in this case. She frankly struck me as someone who was activist in intent, especially given her explicit excitement—almost exuberance—in being chosen for this jury, and precisely the kind of person the defense should most fear being empaneled on the jury.
There were prospective jurors of a similar vibe who attempted to get on the Zimmerman jury, but were exposed by the defense before they could be empaneled. Had those people been on the Zimmerman jury, an acquittal would have been out of the question, as they were committed to Zimmerman’s conviction regardless of law or evidence.
I had a very similar sense from Juror #9—but each of you can listen to her voir dire yourselves, in the videos above, and make your own call.
Before we wrap up this post, there is also good news: Jury selection continues tomorrow, and perhaps for the remainder of this week, given how slowly the process proceeded to seating jurors today.
Once the jurors are selected, however, the trial proper is not scheduled to begin until Monday, March 29, so all of us will get a bit of a break before we dive back into the trial.
Until next time, stay safe!
Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC
Attorney Andrew F. Branca’s legal practice has specialized exclusively in use-of-force law for thirty years. Andrew provides use-of-force legal consultancy services to attorneys across the country, as well as near-daily use-of-force law insight, expertise, and education to lawyers and non-lawyers alike in the form of blog posts, video, and podcasts, through the Law of Self Defense Membership service. If this kind of content is of interest to you, try out our two-week Membership trial for a mere 99 cents, with a 200% no-question- asked money-back guarantee, here: Law of Self Defense Membership Trial.
[Featured image is a screen capture from video of today’s court proceedings in MN v. Chauvin.]
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