Attorney Eric Nelson filed a motion Wednesday requesting that his client, former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, get probation and time served instead of prison time, citing the circumstances of the case, Chauvin’s lack of criminal history, and arguing that the former officer will be targeted in prison.
In a separate filing, Nelson asked that Chauvin receive a new trial in a new location, on grounds including prosecutorial misconduct and juror bias, according to the Star Tribune.
A jury in April found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in relation to the death of George Floyd.
The former officer is set for sentencing on June 25 and is facing up to 40 years behind bars. Such a sentence would be particularly steep, considering “state sentencing guidelines call for a prison term between about 10½ and 15 years, with a presumptive sentence of 12½ years, for someone with no criminal history such as Chauvin,” the Tribune noted.
“Mr. Chauvin asks the Court to look beyond its findings, to his background, his lack of criminal history, his amenability to probation, to the unusual facts of this case, and to his being a product of a ‘broken’ system,'” Nelson wrote in the filing.
The attorney noted that Chauvin has lived a “hardworking, law-abiding life” and is “not the average offender,” adding that “politics” has wrongfully painted his client “as a dangerous man.”
“Mr. Chauvin still has the ability to positively impact his family and his community,” the filing said. “In the eyes of the public, Mr. Chauvin has been reduced to this incident, and he has been painted as a dangerous man. … However, behind the politics, Mr. Chauvin is still a human being.”
“In spite of his mistakes, Mr. Chauvin has demonstrated that he has a capacity for good and that he has the discipline to consistently work toward worthwhile goals,” Nelson wrote.
“Chauvin was unaware that he was even committing a crime,” the attorney argued. “In fact, in his mind, he was simply performing his lawful duty in assisting other officers in the arrest of George Floyd. … Mr. Chauvin’s offense is best described as an error made in good faith reliance [on] his own experience as a police officer and the training he received — not intentional commission of an illegal act.”
Nelson has also filed a 64-page memorandum. The Tribune reports he is “seeking a new trial in a new location on several grounds, including prosecutorial misconduct and juror bias.”
Before the jury issued their verdict, Nelson unsuccessfully argued to Judge Peter Cahill for a mistrial.
The defense attorney complained that the jury had not been sequestered for the trial, despite jurors likely being “bombarded” with outside messaging and media reports about the case.
Judge Cahill dismissed the concerns, telling Nelson, “Well, to be fair, the last few times I advised [the jury], I told them not to watch the news, pure and simple.”
This article has been revised for clarity.
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