On Tuesday, March 16, the hearing in the George Floyd murder trial again involved the actions of Minneapolis’ Democratic city council members. As Liberty Nation previously reported, the lawyer for Derek Chauvin, the officer involved in the death of Floyd, had asked for a continuance and to move the trial due to the publicity surrounding the city’s $27 million civil settlement in Floyd’s death announced on March 12. Judge Peter Cahill went so far as to call the settlement’s timing “unfortunate” but stated plainly he did not think it was political gamesmanship. That changed suddenly with the revelation that city leaders consulted with the county’s chief judge on the announcement’s timing.
Anonymous Sources Strike Again…
Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lawyer, spoke in court on March 16 to add something to the record. This action may be taken by a lawyer to benefit his client at trial or to preserve the record in case of appeal. Here the reason involved both. Nelson introduced an article from The Washington Post that stated city officials got an all-clear from the head judge in the county in announcing the settlement:
“The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to the Post because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said the city consulted with Hennepin County Chief District Judge Toddrick S. Barnette, who told the city it could proceed. Barnette has not responded to a request for comment.”
In a story soaked with racial implications, it’s important to note that Barnette is black. Back in Cahill’s courtroom, he tried to rehabilitate Barnette’s actions. Cahill said:
“As I recall in my discussions with Judge Barnette, the answer was, ‘We can’t tell you what to do.’ And I think he expressed the concern that we have about doing such a thing in the middle of jury selection. So there is no approval by this court. We had no authority to approve any release at this time.”
As reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, state Attorney General Keith Ellison refused to comment on what he knew about the settlement before it was publicly announced. Keith Ellison’s son Jeremiah Ellison has a seat on the city council, and the younger Ellison voted in favor of the massive payout. Ellison senior was hand-picked by the governor to be Chauvin’s special prosecutor. If either Ellison timed the payout or its announcement to hurt Chauvin, that would be explosive news.
Impartial and Unbiased…
As the state’s attorney general, it is Keith Ellison’s duty to ensure Chauvin has a fair trial. As an attorney, he also swore an oath, which included pledging “with all good fidelity as well to the court as to the client, and that you will use no falsehood or deceit, nor delay any person’s cause for lucre or malice. So help you God.” The incident may accrue to Chauvin’s benefit on his motion requests, which Cahill said he would rule on in the future.
On March 16, Cahill announced he would re-examine, by Zoom video conference, the seven jurors already selected, questioning them on their exposure to the settlement announcement and the prejudicial value it may have had. Unlike the in-court testimony, only the judge will query jurors on this point. Nine of the 14 jurors (12 plus two alternates) required to start the trial have been chosen. Jury selection and other pretrial matters will resume Wednesday, March 17.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.
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