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Chauvin Pre-Trial Day 4: Defense Burns Two More Peremptory Strikes

Chauvin Pre-Trial Day 4: Defense Burns Two More Peremptory Strikes

Juror #41 tells judge directly: I can’t be fair and impartial on this case

https://www.courttv.com/title/court-tv-live-stream-web/

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.

Defense Compelled to Burn Two More Peremptory Challenges

The afternoon saw voir dire, or jury selection, move through three additional prospective jurors, #39, #40, and #41.

Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that each of these three jurors had deep-seated and emotional biases against Chauvin.  The first two attempted to pretend this was not the case but were exposed by their responses to the juror questionnaire they (and all prospective jurors) completed last year, and in the case of #40 also by his social media posts (which were searched by the defense team).

Neither of these two could possibly have been allowed on the jury, but they each professed to be fair and impartial, and so they had to be removed by the defense using peremptory strikes rather than for cause.  As a result, the defense is now down to 9 remaining peremptory strikes.

Prospective juror #41 had as deep-seated a bias against Chauvin as the others, but I’ll give her full credit for immediately and explicitly citing that bias the moment she came into court.  So, she was honest, and praise for that.

Less credit to Prosecutor Schleiter who actually tried to salvage this juror by convincing her that despite her protestations she could surely be fair and impartial.  Fortunately, he was unsuccessful.

Because of her candor in announcing she could not be fair and impartial, #41 was removed for cause, and did not require the defense to burn another peremptory challenge.

Prospective Juror #39: Stricken by the Defense

The first portion of the defense voir dire of prospective juror #39, a male, was rather uneventful, except that the audio demeanor of #39 struck me as that of someone who was rather stoned.

Things came off the rails rather quickly, however, when defense counsel Nelson began referring to the juror questionnaire completed by #39 late last year, particularly in reference to questions around the bystander video of Floyd’s death.

Based on this video #39 reported having formed a very negative opinion of Chauvin:

In that questionnaire, #39 described his perception of the video of Floyd’s death as:

It was an outrageous incident. Minneapolis Police Department needs to be completely re-thought.  Officers in video were behaving more like an occupying military force than as police officers.

Prospect #39 described Chauvin’s conduct towards Floyd as showing a “lack of respect for life.”

As much as defense counsel Nelson was troubled by #39s comparing Chauvin’s conduct to acts of war, it was equally troubling that #39 seemed to expect the defense to prove Chauvin’s innocence rather than acknowledging that Chauvin was presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the state:

When pressed by the defense, #39 asserted that he could put his opinions aside, but these assertions were apparently rather lacking in credibility:

The questionnaire also revealed that #39s wife had participated in Floyd demonstrations, and had donated money to police reform policies.

Although #39 reported that he did not participate in these activities himself, this was only because he was working full-time. Were he not working he likely would have participated, he said.

When asked on the questionnaire if he felt that the discrimination against blacks and minorities was exaggerated by the media, #39 strongly disagreed with that statement, indicating that he believed discrimination was as bad as characterized by the media.

When asked on the questionnaire to respond to these statement, “police treat whites and blacks equally,” #39 strongly disagreed with that statement, as well.

When asked on the questionnaire about defunding the police, #39 strongly agreed with that policy.

When asked if he trusts the police, #39 replied that he did—but only because he knew there were checks on the police, and he trusted the checks. Which sounds a lot like he trusts the check, and does not trust the police.

Prospective juror #39 also thought “blue lives matter” was rather silly, because after all, the police have guns, what do they need to be worried about?

It was also notable that #39 took an almost missionary zeal in serving on this jury:

Again, #39 adopted the position that he could imagine acquitting Chauvin, if the defense proved him not guilty, the opposite of the presumption of innocence to which all defendants are entitled:

Further, when pressed on whether he could be fair and impartial, #39 asserted that he could—but that doing so would be painful:

Ultimately, the defense was compelled to use a precious peremptory challenge to strike #39 from the jury pool.

Interestingly, after the defense exercised its peremptory challenge, the state raised a Batson challenge, alleging that the strike was based on race or ethnicity.   Although one wouldn’t know it from the sound of #39’s voice, which came across as whiter than Wonder Bread, apparently #39 self-identifies as Hispanic.

Judge Cahill rejected this challenge, however, noting that the defense had presented race-neutral grounds for the strike.

Judge Cahill also noted that at this point there had been six jurors chosen, and of considerable racial diversity—they self-identified as three white, one Hispanic, one black, and one multiracial—suggesting there was no racial motivation behind the defense strikes.

Here’s the voir dire of prospective juror #39:

Prospective Juror #40: Stricken by the Defense

Prospective juror #40, a male, described himself as a music teacher, albeit one unable to play a musical instrument.

His voir dire also proceeded uneventfully until the defense started digging into his questionnaire, and then further into his social media posts.  This prospect also insisted early on and throughout that he could be a fair and impartial juror in this case.

In his questionnaire, #40 described his opinion of Chauvin as very negative.  The basis for this opinion?  #40 wrote:

“Seeing the look on Chauvin’s face on the video, and seeing him and other officers ignoring bystander cries to stop once Floyd was on the ground and subdued.”

He described the continued restraint of Floyd by the officers as “over the top” and “unnecessary.”

When the questionnaire asked for his opinion on Floyd, #40 responded that he’d heard that Floyd was being arrested for having passed a bad bill, “but he still shouldn’t have been treated like that.”

Prospective juror #40 then went on in his questionnaire response to write:

“Floyd had a record, but didn’t deserve to die like this by a cop who has duty to protect, who ignored his pleas, Chauvin should have stopped, and other officers should have intervened.”

When asked in the questionnaire about the property destruction and looting that took place in Minneapolis during the Floyd-related protests, #40 blamed this destruction on the boogaloo boys, rather than on Black Lives Matter, and expressed a strong interest in systematic reform of the police:

After a short break, court resumed and Nelson began asking #40 about his social media posts, which the defense had researched.

The prospective juror tried to downplay his social media activity, but this was really the nail in the coffin that ought to have been the basis for removing #40 for cause, but which compelled the defense to use a peremptory challenge.

When asked about this, #40 said he couldn’t recall posting to social media about the Floyd death. It turned out that he’d posted this:

“I went to the site of the George Floyd memorial at 38th and Chicago where he was murdered. There was a mix of all sorts of people, there were people providing food and supplies for those in need, people crying, people sharing, hugging, laughing with each other. Holy ground.  There was a time for prayer that lasted 9 minutes. Most knelt for that. Nine minutes is a long time. There is a groundswell for change. It was peaceful and beautiful and moving.”

Fair and impartial, indeed.

Again, prospective juror #40 insisted that he could serve as a fair and impartial juror, which apparently is all that Judge Cahill needs to hear in order to compel the defense to burn another peremptory strike—which, of course, they did.

Here is the voir dire of prospective juror #40:

Juror #41: I cannot be fair & impartial on this case.

The last juror of the day was #41, a female.

She was no less biased against Chauvin than were #39 and #40, but at least she was honest about it. Because of her candor, she was in court only about 8 minutes before being dismissed for cause, although almost half that time involved Prosecutor Schleiter trying to convince her that she was a reasonable juror for this trial.

Almost the moment she enters the courtroom, #41 tells Judge Cahill explicitly that she does not believe she can bring impartiality to this case:

Cahill informs her she could still be a juror, despite her strongly held opinion, if she can simply set that opinion aside for purposes of the trial.  To her credit, she stands her ground in her belief that this would be extremely hard for her to do.

When Judge Cahill explicitly asks her if she can be fair and impartial on this case, she answers directly in the negative:  No.

You’d think that would be all she wrote for #41, but no, Prosecutor Schleiter would love her on the jury, so he takes an opportunity to try to convince her to stay.  She’s not convinced.

When he directly asks here if she believes she can give the defendant a fair trial, she says she wishes she could, but she can’t. Again, full points to #41 for honesty.

And with that, even Schleiter gave up, and Judge Cahill dismissed her for cause.

And here’s the brief voir dire of #41:

And that wraps up court for today, with proceedings to continue tomorrow morning at 9:00am CT.

We’ll continue to cover the case live on Parler tomorrow.

Until next time, stay safe!

–Andrew

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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Comments

James B. Shearer | March 11, 2021 at 9:08 pm

“… the state raised a Batson challenge ..”

Are a bunch of dubious Bateson challenges more likely to annoy the judge or to wear him down?

“When asked in the questionnaire about the property destruction and looting that took place in Minneapolis during the Floyd-related protests, #40 blamed this destruction on the boogaloo boys, rather than on Black Lives Matter”

Horrific proof that there is no Democrat lie so ridiculous that street Democrats won’t immediately swallow and regurgitate it.

    TheOldZombie in reply to henrybowman. | March 11, 2021 at 9:31 pm

    It’s scary to think how easy people on the left can be duped. I wish I was there in that courtroom so I could ask him if he ever watched any footage of the riots and if he could point out the boogaloo boys.

TheOldZombie | March 11, 2021 at 9:48 pm

Chauvin is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

I hope his defense team can hammer that point and break-through to the jury who I think are biased even if they say they can be fair to Chauvin. It looks like the state is already acting as if this is a fait accompli.

Is it normal for a judge to be this reluctant to exclude a juror for cause?

    Subotai Bahadur in reply to Bill West. | March 11, 2021 at 10:29 pm

    In a Marsupial Macropodidae court it is not uncommon. And will become more so as the Marsupials spread.

    Subotai Bahadur

    TheOldZombie in reply to Bill West. | March 11, 2021 at 10:30 pm

    The judge is probably worried about allegations that he’d stack the jury one way or the other.

Colonel Travis | March 11, 2021 at 10:43 pm

Juror 41 says she’s thought a lot about this incident. Yet if the facts and/or the law say that a conviction is not possible, she doesn’t care. Her feelings say Chauvin must be punished. She hasn’t thought about this anywhere near as much as she pretends.

How does a nation built on rule of law survive people like this?

    thad_the_man in reply to Colonel Travis. | March 11, 2021 at 11:06 pm

    WQe can because she is honest about it. As compared ot other jurors who felt the same way but lied about being fair and impartial.

      Colonel Travis in reply to thad_the_man. | March 11, 2021 at 11:26 pm

      I get that she is not on the jury. There’s more to it than that. She clearly supports political prosecutions, we know she’s devoted her life to some sort of BS social justice change. She does not care about how our nation was constructed and operates. The chipping away at the foundation of America comes from many sources.

        George_Kaplan in reply to Colonel Travis. | March 12, 2021 at 12:27 am

        Better an honest Left with whom you might be able to have dialogue with than Leftists who will lie about their beliefs, but aim to do maximum damage for the cause.

          Colonel Travis in reply to George_Kaplan. | March 12, 2021 at 1:08 am

          Honest leftists do as much damage as the liars. I’m all for trying to convince. But when is that going to happen to this person? Her thoughts about this case will not be challenged, she will go to her bubble and dig in harder. She is so obstinate that the law doesn’t matter to her. Multiply this moron by tens of millions.

          There is a divide in America that cannot be bridged.

    How?

    We don’t.

    BillyHW in reply to Colonel Travis. | March 12, 2021 at 1:50 am

    No civilization can survive a 19th Amendment.

      TheOldZombie in reply to BillyHW. | March 12, 2021 at 2:15 am

      Ridiculous statement given the number of civilizations that women had not say in (by owning property or voting) and still collapsed.

      What is really killing America is that the right has allowed the left to thoroughly take over the education system from kindergarten to college. After a few decades that mistake has crushed America.

Watching this makes me wonder how society even functions at all. SAD!

juror 41 and the sjw crowd are why peace officers will become more reactive, if not totally reactive. Policing will be providing clean up on aisle 4. If not through departmental policies, it will be through officer conduct. There are a lot of ways to delay response, sometimes to the point a call will self resolve one way or another. Many calls will cease to be response calls:

911: 911, what’s your emergency?
j41: People are camping on my front yard! (Or any cold or property crime).
911: Are they violent?
j41: Not so far.
911: Ok, call us back if they turn violent.
j41: How do I get them off my lawn?
911: Are you ready to write down the number to the social workers office?

The leftist brain does not live in the real world. It lives in the world of fairytales, moonbeams and Unicorns. But when their own worldview leads to negative results or disaster, they can’t even see how they fouled their own nest.

I’m afraid they won’t run out of prospective SJW

Many thanks to Andrew for a quite chilling lesson in what constitutes “cause” in jury selection. Chauvin has a slim chance of evading conviction–regardless of the evidence. In a sane world, prior declarations of bias and a closed mind could not be rehabilitated by simply saying “never mind”–I have an open mind. What a kangaroo court this is shaping up to be. It seems to me that Chauvin’s only chance is that the judge won’t let the case go to the jury if the prosecution fails to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Doesn’t do much for my confidence in our courts.

The early release of a truncated, silent video has polluted the jury pool.

felixrigidus | March 12, 2021 at 9:05 am

One might wonder if #41 would not be a far better juror than these leftist activists eager to get on the jury by pretending they’d be fair and impartial. Those didn’t even acknowledge their own biases if they were not outright determined to inflict their hatred on the accused.

This episode exposed the dishonesty and vindictiveness of the prosecution as well. Their goal is to get a conviction, justice and due process be damned.

Still not impressed by the defense.

Is this trial the dying gasp of our legal system?

TY Mr. Branca,,, excellent explanations, without too many Latin phrases.

Was it this difficult to get an acceptable jury for the Zimmerman or Brown trials? I don’t remember it being so difficult but that was a long time ago now.

Jury duty. Served. Served again. My voir dire of the jury selection process is it’s a pedantic, exploitive process design for, by, and of the new priesthood. It’s an insulting waste of time for the citizens compelled into the process. The granular tedium of this post proves my point (no offense, Mr. Andrew).

As constructed, jury selection is designed more for strategy, PR, and veneration of respective counsels, rather than actual truth or justice for the parties involved. It’s far removed from the good faith definition ‘Jury of peers,’ which would be better served merely by random selections – ignorance, prejudice, bigotry, and all – of 12/6 citizens from voter registrations rolls.

Those are ‘my peers.’ Those people. Random. Then, get on with it.

    I was once removed from a DUI case by the prosecutor because I had worked for the police for almost nine years. He questioned me about my knowledge of field procedure in DUI stops, and having helped to write the manuals, my knowledge was rather complete. I’m sure he didn’t want anyone on the jury who might notice mistakes and omissions by the arresting officer.

    I was also once on a jury hearing the trial of a young woman for drug possession who was arrested after an alleged DUI stop. The arresting officer claimed he made the stop because he suspected DUI, but became immediately more interested in searching the vehicle, and called in a sniffer K9 unit. However, having made a DUI stop, he did not perform a field sobriety test, nor a breathalyzer test, nor did he get a warrant for a blood draw, and didn’t cite the woman for DUI. With the emphasis on DUI patrols and arrests, I found his story incredible, and suspected the stop was motivated by something else. Ultimately we found the woman not guilty (for another cock-up made by the police) and later found out the arresting officer had a hair up his butt concerning the woman’s family, had been harassing them for months, and had even once been caught peering into their home through a window!

Judge Cahill also noted that at this point there had been six jurors chosen, and of considerable racial diversity—they self-identified as three white, one Hispanic, one black, and one multiracial—suggesting there was no racial motivation behind the defense strikes.

In an earlier post made to a previous story on this matter, I mentioned that intent to strike jurors based on race or ethnicity is impossible to ascertain early in the jury selection process, esp. when, by chance, a disproportionate number of the pool’s POCs come up for examination early. Here we can see the benefit of getting a distance into the process, where the makeup of the pool (so far) and of the jurors seated (at this point) allow the judge to make a rational judgment of whether or not jurors are being rejected because of race or ethnicity. When the first Batson challenge was made by the state, the court had no way to determine if the challenge was valid because a pattern of racially/ethnically motivated strikes by the defense had not yet been established and would have been impossible to demonstrate.

In other news about Floyd – City of Minneapolis reaches $27M settlement with George Floyd’s family

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/city-minneapolis-considering-settlement-george-floyd-s-family-n1260868

The City of Minneapolis just announced a $27 million dollar settlement with the Floyd family while the jury is being seated. This should be grounds for a mistrial and a change of venue. I don’t think defense counsel knows about the announcement yet.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/tasneemnashrulla/george-floyd-lawsuit-settlement-minneapolis

It is interesting the Benjamin Crump is on the receiving end of two record breaking settlements this year. Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. The interesting aspect of each of these record breaking settlements by far left “woke” progressive city councils is that neither settlement is supported by significant evidence of wrongdoing.

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