Chauvin Jury May Have Gotten It Right: Outside Influences Troubling
HARRY HURLEY OPINION EDITORIAL
I think that it is rather clear that most Americans believe that former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was guilty of the death of George Floyd.
A jury found him guilty of all 3 counts, yesterday.
To the surprise of many, following a lengthy 3 week trial ... the jury only deliberated for a handful of hours before delivering their unanimous verdict.
During their brief deliberations, the jury sent no questions to the Judge. Their minds were made up and obviously made up fast.
I think that the trial for Chauvin was over before it began ... when the jury watched Chauvin’s knee pinned against Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes.
It’s simply impossible to unsee that!
All of the many expert witnesses who followed didn’t even matter.
In the end, the jury may have rendered the correct decision based upon the particular case circumstances.
However, the relentless external interference that took place in this case can’t be ignored and it should never be repeated, again.
But, this isn’t Pollyanna ... so, you already know in your “heart of hearts” that this will be the new standard going forward.
The endless, market saturation level national, metro and local media reporting made it impossible for Chauvin to get a fair trial ... although I do believe that Judge Peter Cahill did a fair, impartial, exemplary job under nearly impossible circumstances.
Judge Cahill was confronted with a number of very challenging circumstances that could have multiple times led to a mistrial. (A number of other moments of truth has also laid the groundwork for a certain appeal of this verdict).
First, Cahill had to confront whether Chauvin could receive a fair trial in Minneapolis with the nonstop pre-trial publicity.
Then, right during jury selection, The city of Minneapolis and the Floyd family finalized and announced a $27 million settlement.
That public pronouncement never should never have taken place while the trial process was already underway. This alone is a legitimate issue for a potential Chauvin appeal.
There are many other examples of things which occurred that could have affected the objectivity of any juror ... But, I’ll share just one more egregious example with you.
Whiie the trial was coming to a close, United States congresswoman Maxine Waters decided to travel to Brooklyn Center, Minnesota (a suburb of Minneapolis) and proceeded to make a series of incredible public statements.
“If nothing does not happen, then we know that we’ve got to not only stay in the street, but we’ve got to fight for justice. We’ve got to get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business,” said Waters.
The noted Legal scholar Alan Dershowitz told Sean Spicer yesterday, “I have no real confidence that this verdict, which may be correct in someways, but I have no confidence that this verdict was produced by due process and the rule of law, rather than the influence of the crowd,” said Dershowitz.
Dershowitz continued ... “The outside influences of Reverend Al Sharpton and Maxine Waters, was like the sword of Damocles hanging over the jury and they basically are saying directly to the jury if you don’t convict on the murder charge at all the charges, the cities will burn, the country will be destroyed,” said Dershowitz.
Whether or not you agree that Chauvin was guilty ... what Dershowitz is saying here is reasonable and has merit.
Dershowitz also said that “Jurors must’ve feared for their lives while delivering the verdict.”
”The fears, the threats — every juror in that room knew about these threats and when they sit, deliberate, they have to be saying to themselves, consciously or unconsciously, if I render a verdict other than a murder verdict, what will the consequences be for me, my family, my friends, my business. That should never, ever be allowed to seep into a jury room,” said Dershowitz.
Dershowitz previously stated that Congresswoman waters comments were the equivalent of putting not only a thumb, but an elbow on the scales of justice.
“Threats and intimidation… seeped into the jury room, the judge made a terrible mistake by not sequestering the jury so the judge himself said this case may be reversed on appeal,” said Dershowitz.
I conclude that by Minnesota law (and, many existing state’s laws) Chauvin may have been guilty as charged. It’s not the verdict that I’m writing about. It’s the process.
What we must guard against is the outside influences that converged to create a nearly impossible atmosphere for Chauvin to receive a fair trial.
If this is how trial’s will take place going forward ... we will be witnesses to the destruction of the freest and fairest legal system in the history of the world.
In America, you can receive justice without inappropriate outside influences. Justice should never be delivered in the manner we have just witnessed.
SOURCES: Sean Spicer, Alan Dershowitz, Harry Hurley pretrial and trial observations.