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Minnesota Supreme Ct Dismissal of 3rd Degree Murder In Noor Case Could Have Implications for Derek Chauvin

Minnesota Supreme Ct Dismissal of 3rd Degree Murder In Noor Case Could Have Implications for Derek Chauvin

The Third Degree Murder conviction of Chauvin now is legally deficient and must be vacated. Chauvin’s Second Degree Murder conviction is on appeal, and if that were reversed on legal grounds, the only conviction remaining would be Second Degree Manslaughter.

Derek Chauvin was convicted of Second Degree Murder, Third Degree Murder, and Second Degree Manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. He was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison on the highest count.

The Third Degree Murder charge was legally controversial, because traditionally in Minnesota that applied only to generalized depraved indifference to life, such as firing a weapon towards a crowd, but not where a specific person was targeted. During the Chauvin trial, the trial judge dismissed the Third Degree Murder charge, but was reversed by the interim-level appeals court. That caused problems during jury selection, as Third Degree Murder was reinstated during jury selection.

Mohamed Noor was convicted in the death of Australian Justine Ruszczyk Damond, in a particularly outrageous use of police deadly force. There were no riots over the killing of Justine Damond. We did not have a national conversation. Protests did not fill the streets and campuses.

A Minnesota Supreme Court ruling in the case of Noor likely will cause the Third Degree Murder conviction against Chauvin to be vacated. The court ruled, as to Noor:

This case comes to us following the tragic death of Justine Ruszczyk on July 15, 2017. Ruszczyk had called police that night out of concern for a woman she heard screaming behind her home. When Ruszczyk approached the police vehicle that came in response to her call, appellant Mohamed Mohamed Noor fired his service weapon at her from the passenger seat. Noor’s bullet struck Ruszczyk in the abdomen and sadly, she died at the scene.

A jury acquitted Noor of second-degree intentional murder, Minn. Stat. § 609.19, subd. 1(1) (2020) but found him guilty of third-degree depraved-mind murder, Minn. Stat. 3 § 609.195(a) (2020), and second-degree manslaughter, Minn. Stat. § 609.205(1) (2020).

He appealed, arguing that his conviction of depraved-mind murder could not stand because his actions were directed at Ruszczyk. A divided panel of the court of appeals affirmed his conviction. State v. Noor, 955 N.W.2d 644, 664 (Minn. App. 2021).

The issue before us on appeal is not whether Noor is criminally responsible for Ruszczyk’s death; he is, and his conviction of second-degree manslaughter stands. The issue before us is whether in addition to second-degree manslaughter, Noor can also be convicted of depraved-mind murder. Because conduct that is directed with particularity at the person who is killed cannot evince “a depraved mind, without regard for human life,” Minn. Stat. § 609.195(a), and because the only reasonable inference that can be drawn from the circumstances proved is that Noor directed his single shot with particularity at Ruszczyk, we conclude that he cannot. Accordingly, we reverse Noor’s conviction of depraved-mind murder and remand the case to the district court for Noor to be sentenced on the second-degree manslaughter conviction

This could be important in the Chauvin case. In it’s most direct implication, the Third Degree Murder conviction against Chauvin now must be vacated.

That still leaves the higher Second Degree Murder charge, under which he was sentenced to 22.5 years. But that charge always has been legally suspect to me. It’s essentially a felony murder charge, which requires an unjustified killing in the course of committing another felony. But here, the other felony was the same act of assault that caused the death of Floyd, so effectively every unlawful killing becomes Second Degree Murder. Apparently, Minnesota law does not require a separate felony unlike most states, but I wonder if the Minnesota Supreme Court will revisit that.

So for this to make a difference in Chauvin’s length of sentence, the Minnesota Supreme Court would have to reverse his Second Degree Murder charge, the Third Degree Murder now is legally defective, which would leave 2nd Degree Manslaughter, for which 4 years is the presumptive sentence. Admittedly, that’s a longshot for Chauvin.

I also wonder whether the jury having been presented with a legally defective Third Degree Murder charge, and the trial having been conducted on that basis, could taint the entirely of the conviction. And of course, Chauvin has many challenges to trial court rulings, the bizarre civil settlement that arguably tainted the jury pool, actual juror bias, and threats against the jury from public figures during the case. Any one of which could result in a reversal. Again, a long shot.

And another longer shot, Chauvin faces federal civil rights charges along with other officers. He would have to beat those charges.

But at this stage, the only shots Chauvin have are longshots.


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Poor chauvin.

If Trump gets back in office, the last thing he needs to do is pardon this police officer

    mailman in reply to gonzotx. | September 16, 2021 at 8:41 am

    Trump wont pardon Noor. Chauvin on the other hand will deserve a pardon for no other reason than the fact he will NEVER receive a fair trial AND should never have had a trial to begin with.

    Observer in reply to gonzotx. | September 16, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    Trump wouldn’t have the power to pardon him of these charges. Chauvin so far has only been convicted of Minnesota crimes. Presidents only have the power to pardon federal crimes, not state crimes. (This, BTW, is why Mumia abu-Jamal, born Wesley Cook, remains in prison and was not pardoned by Obama or Clinton). If the DOJ successfully prosecutes Chauvin, as it reportedly plans to do, then Trump (if he became president again) could pardon Chauvin for those federal convictions, but the state convictions would still stand (unless the MN governor pardoned Chauvin for those).

The manslaughter charge was the only charge that ever was viable in a normal world. Even that was a stretch.

Noor’s problem was being too stupid to be a policeman. An affirmative action hire.

What’s going on in his mind is loose associations and not much beyond.

Jurisprudence doesn’t exist any more. The rules will be bent to the whims of the mob.

Hope this helps him. And the others on trial.

Chauvin was railroaded and metaphorically lynched by the mob. In 21st century Amerika.

The only thing Chauvin was guilty of was not knowing Floyd was OD’ing on fentanyl, exacerbated by his medical comorbidities. How was he supposed to know that? Paramedics were on the way. Only they could make that determination.

Chauvin was grossly overcharged for purely political reasons. Involuntary manslaughter, or whatever the equivalent is in Minnesota, should have been the most severe charge.

This and the courts refusing to at least hear the evidence in any number of election fraud cases from 2020 has destroyed whatever faith I had left in the judiciary.

Our justice system has been totally politicized. Judicial appointments are now (and for the Dems have been for some time) purely political appointments. Forget about using respect for the Constitution as a criteria, Appoint judges who are without doubt political allies. That’s what the Dems have been doing for decades.

Subotai Bahadur | September 15, 2021 at 8:18 pm

Noor is a politically correct and favored minority. As such, he can commit no wrong. He will be released shortly.

Chauvin is not a politically correct and favored minority. This is Minnesota. He is scrod.

Subotai Bahadur

“The Minnesota Supreme Court tossed the murder conviction against Somali Police Officer Mohamed Noor on Wednesday”

Cuz Muslims can do no wrong under our laws! Though Islam (a totalitarian system) is the greatest cause of death in the history of the world.

I had a 140lb person kneel on the back of my neck. I could breath fine, my face did hurt.
They couldn’t tolerate the pressure on their knee and had to stop at about three minutes.
There was zero chance I was going to die.

You can’t kill a person this way.

Try it yourself, do the Chauvin challenge.

    Throughout the Chauvin trial, I was astonished that both the media and the court would ignore actual Youtube videos that demonstrated grown heavy men on the neck of others created discomfort, but never a problem. I tried it with both my wife and my youngest teenager kneeling on me at the same time. No problem.

    Not that it would have made a difference with Chauvin’s jurors, who apparently had all decided that Chauvin was guilty before hearing any of the evidence, but we now know that Dr. Baker, the Hennepin County ME who performed the autopsy on George Floyd, had initially concluded that the police restraint played no role in causing Floyd’s death. There was no physical evidence anywhere on or in Floyd’s body that indicated that the restraint had deprived him of oxygen. Dr. Baker originally determined that Floyd’s death was caused by his severe heart disease, exacerbated by the methamphetamine (contained in the speedballs he had swallowed) and the exertion of fighting with the cops. But those conclusions were unacceptable to the politically-driven prosecutors and black “activists,” at least one of whom (a former black ME from Washington, D.C.) called Dr. Baker and threatened to destroy him professionally if he didn’t alter his findings.

The Minnesota Courts seem to be in a tangled web, with regard to the 3rd Murder. The Statute states that “whoever causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree.”

The case law at the time of the trial broadened the meaning of “others” to mean “others” or “anyone.” I.e. they are claiming that this disregard of others can be exhibited by Chauvin’s targeting of one person.

But, this is really irrelevant, because if these laws cannot be understood by lawyers with years of legal education and experience, they certainly cannot be understood by a jury. A randomly chosen jury in this country will approximate the average reading comprehension of an adult in this country. That is less than the 7th grade level, according to OECD/PIAAC studies. The average adult in this country cannot comprehend the laws, and material evidence used in a trial to determine guilt. It’s a fiction the Courts have long tolerated, but is increasingly creating chaos, as it did in the Chauvin trial.

    Chauvin could have requested a bench trial, in which case, his case would be decided by the judge, presumably a highly educated and intelligent legal mind. Sound like a good plan? Good luck with that.

    Although, in retrospect, maybe he should have.

    The jury trial is not about the intelligence or legal understanding of the typical citizen, and is based on the notion of finding impartial unbiased people who, despite their limitations in intellect and education, genuinely want to make a fair and just decision.

    Having watched the jury selection and Chauvin trial on video, I am of the opinion that most, if not all of those jurors, had decided the case before they first stepped foot in the courtroom. Overwhelming bias. This is the manner in which the jury system failed in the Chauvin case.

      GWB in reply to Rand. | September 16, 2021 at 8:53 am

      a highly educated and intelligent legal mind
      Which is even worse nowadays than the “ignorant masses”.

      ruralguy in reply to Rand. | September 16, 2021 at 10:07 am

      Truly, Rand, an impartial jury should be about both, to ensure a fair trial: a legal mind and impartial. Juries skills should be licensed and their decisions should be evaluated through quality control procedures.

Jurors should have to take a basic test of critical reasoning and logic before they can be seated in a jury.

I mean, everyone has to take a drivers test, right? And so every idiot in American can gain access to a deadly weapon (their car).

Is it too much to ask that a juror have to take a test when they are considering actions that may put a person behind bars for many years?

    randian in reply to Ben Kent. | September 15, 2021 at 11:23 pm

    They don’t want that kind of juror. Too hard to get convictions. Anecodotally, I got thrown off a jury (rape trial, I think, it was a while ago) on a peremptory challenge because I answered the DA’s question “what is your profession” with “engineer”.

      ruralguy in reply to randian. | September 16, 2021 at 9:53 am

      Absolutely, Randian. It was this shared experience that led me to be skeptical of juries. I have been called up about 4 times, never serving on a jury. I worked as an engineer at a very large company. Whenever any coworker was selected for jury duty, we all would laugh and joke about him getting a day off. In 35 years of working as an engineer, I rarely saw a coworker actually serve. Among the hundreds of engineering coworkers discussions about it, hardly anyone recalled an engineer serving on a jury.

      SeiteiSouther in reply to randian. | September 16, 2021 at 2:10 pm

      I thought I was going to get out of jury duty five years ago, due to me working at a law firm. It was state welfare fraud committed by a mother and daughter. When I told them what I did for a living, I was not excused and that surprised me.

      Now, the defendants were not masterminds at all. Clear fraud, but it hinged on one thing: The mother and the daughter had to live separately from her children, whom were under the grandmother’s care, and the daughter could not stay at the residence for longer than 24 hours.

      By transactional records, and other evidence, the daughter listed her mother’s place as her residence (the daughter also got in legal trouble in another city and had a parole officer, she also listed her mother’s place as her residence).

      However, the state royally screwed up in two areas: 1. not getting the parole officer’s records to prove that she lived there and 2. Not surveiling the mother’s residence to prove that she lived there.

      Those two things bit the state in the ass. The six jurors and one alternate, all white and educated, discussed it for about 45 minutes. Initially, myself and one juror (who actually was a friend from high school) thought they should be found guilty. However, another juror pointed out the one simple fact: The state had not proved that the defendants broke the “24 hour” rule. That simple sentence brought me down to Earth. Since they didn’t even have the parole officer’s records, I had to admit that the state didn’t prove their case.

      We found them not guilty, despite the fact that ALL of us agreed they were, bu the state didn’t prove it.

    ruralguy in reply to Ben Kent. | September 16, 2021 at 10:08 am

    Excellent point, Ben.

Hmm, on one hand, a novel act of “self-defense”. On the other hand, a fentanyl-induced progressive condition, and assembled mob to deny access by authorized medical personnel. One flew over the cuckoo’s nest. A noir to die for.

I very much appreciate how you correlated these two cases. When I saw the decision for Noor I immediately thought of this other case, and knew that my local media wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. As always, thank you for your contributions to the free press of this country

had a cousin (an ausa) tell me once that “the entire criminal justice system in the us is based on the absurd premise that a fool is a fool but twelve fools are wise “

Something worth noting is that the vacating of third degree murder….the police officer had no reason to be in fear of his life and shot an unarmed woman in her own home without provocation.

His plea deal being overturned seems to send a message to prosecutors “stop offering plea deals start overwhelming the system” if a clear enough slam dunk case could involve the perp walking because the prosecution decided to save some time and money why would other prosecutors agree to plea deals?