A year after he was convicted for killing George Floyd in the infamous encounter that sparked violent riots across the country, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is seeking a fairer trial. The appeal points to the fact that media coverage of the story was inescapable and strongly predisposed jurors to find Chauvin guilty, particularly as the trial was held under threats of another round of violent rioting if the verdict was anything else.
Derek Chauvin challenges conviction
Chavin’s attorney William Mohrman cited a constant barrage of media coverage that ” glorified Floyd and demonized Chauvin” as having effectively guaranteed his conviction.
Equally important in ensuring that outcome was the threat that an acquittal would instantly result in rioting both in Minneapolis and in other cities across the country.
Jurors were not sequestered and the trial took place in Minneapolis despite objections from Chauvin and his attorneys.
Anyone who had doubts about his guilt could see the preparations being made in the city and around the courthouse to defend against a violent riot.
Mohrman argues that the outcome was predetermined as jurors were either devoted to a guilty verdict from the beginning due to media coverage or because they feared what might happen otherwise.
Jurors described feeling pressured to “get it right” because they knew that violence and destruction would erupt if they disagreed.
A fair trial?
Jurors were understandably afraid for their own safety and for the safety of others in cities hit by riots in 2020, but for Derek Chauvin this made an acquittal nearly impossible.
Now Chauvin and his lawyers are asking that the verdict be thrown out and another trial held in a different venue, or that his sentence be reduced.
Chauvin’s appeal was expected, but the very extensive list of complaints submitted by Mohrman on his behalf presents a strong case for a new trial.
The problem for Chauvin and his lawyers is that the George Floyd incident has not become any less notorious than it was when the first trial took place.
Any suggestion that Chauvin’s sentence might be overturned will likely spark new calls for rioting and intimidation of the sort that threatened the fairness of the first verdict.
Chauvin’s chances now may be slightly better than they were a year ago, but securing a fairer trial this time will still be extremely difficult for the defense.