Key issues raised in oral argument were a juror who allegedly lied about attending a George Floyd protest, and the fortress courthouse atmosphere because of threats of rioting if there were a not guilty verdict.
We last checked in on the appeal by Derek Chauvin of his state court conviction in the death of George Floyd on October 12, 2022, when we noted that Derek Chauvin State Appeal Now Fully Briefed. The oral argument before the mid-level appeals court took place on January 18, 2022.
Media coverage of the oral argument was infuriating because it repeated the false claim that Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes.
“Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pinned the Black man to the ground with his knee on his neck for 9 1/2 minutes.”
That’s simply not true. Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck for a very short time, mostly the pressure was on the upper back. Indeed, the prosecution’s medical testimony was that Floyd died from “positional asphyxiation” caused by Floyd being placed face down on his stomach and chest such that the pressure on his back prevented him from inhaling. The forensics found no evidence of pressure on the neck.
In an egregious trial error, the prosecution was permitted to have a non-expert (“lay”) martial arts instructor eyewitness testify that pressure to the coratid artery cut off blood flow to the brain, but that contradicted the actual medical evidence and testimony. It was one of a long list of ways in which Chauvin was deprived of a fair trial.
Here are some of our prior posts demonstrating problems with the Chauvin trial:
- Derek Chauvin Files Motion for New Trial and To “Impeach the Verdict” Due To Jury Misconduct
- Chauvin Juror Admits Participating In Pre-Trial Protest, Photographed In “Knee Off Our Necks” T-Shirt
- Alternate Juror in Derek Chauvin Trial: “I did not want to go through rioting and destruction again”
- Derek Chauvin Trial Tainted By Threats Of Violence Calling Into Question Whether Any Minneapolis Jury Could Be Impartial
- Chauvin Trial Judge: Rep. Maxine Waters’ threats may result in “this whole trial being overturned” on appeal
- Chauvin Trial Verdict Prediction (of Sorts): On legal merits alone, not guilty — but political dynamics drive injustice
- Maxine Waters: Protesters Need to “Get More Confrontational” If No “Murder” Conviction Of Derek Chauvin
- Chauvin Trial: Jury has “a basis” to “find reasonable doubt here, but it’s not what I’m expecting”
We’ve been following the because receiving a fair trial — even for “guilty” people — is so fundamental to our pre-existing now-fading justice system. Here, I said in an interview after the close of the evidence but before the jury verdict, that there was evidence of excessive use of force, but enough disputed evidence that the jury could go either way:
The prosecutor’s best piece of evidence is that videotape, the nine minute videotape where even if you can justify, and I think you can, Floyd being taken to the ground, being put in a prone position at some point, I think even the prosecution’s use of force witnesses admitted that that was okay, but it’s the length of time. And the fact that Chauvin keeps the pressure on him. It’s not quite knee to the neck, like the media saying, but kept the pressure on him even after he visibly stopped breathing. I mean, for a minute or two, after that, uh, just, there’s just that length of time is brutal.
And I expect that that tape will be showed or at least part of it will be showed in the closing arguments, by the prosecution. That’s their best piece of evidence that if you just turned them on his side, or if you’d given him a little more breathing room, so to speak, you know, halfway through the nine minutes, he’d be alive. So that I think is a really tough thing for the defense to overcome. I think they can justify a lot of what was done, but it’s those extra three to four, three to five minutes that are going to be a real problem.
This local TV account of the oral argument summarizes the issues (but repeats the false 9-minutes to the neck claim). The judges were skeptical at best of Chauvin’s claims, particularly because of the deference given to trial court judges on the details of how trials are conducted. Much of the argument concerned a juror who allegedly lied about attending a George Floyd protest that was not disclosed, and perhaps gives Chauvin a minor ray of hope on the appeal. There’s no reason to think from the oral arguments that a new trial will be ordered.
Not only is this appeal a long-shot, it wouldn’t get Chauin out of jail. He’s already pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges and received a sentence approximately as long as he received on the state charges. And even if the judges agreed with Chauvin, that would only mean there would be a re-trial.
So the Chauvin prosecution shows that when the politics are overwhelming, the rights of the accused get trampled. And most people couldn’t care less.DONATE
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