Judge Peter Cahill denied attorney Eric Nelson’s appeal for a new trial on behalf of his client, former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, a day before Chauvin is set to be sentenced.
Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd on April 20.
Judge Cahill’s ruling on the appeal was filed Thursday and made public Friday afternoon, according to NBC News.
Hours before the jury broke to deliberate the verdict on April 20, Nelson complained to Judge Cahill that the jury was not fully sequestered and likely influenced by outside forces. The Daily Wire reported at the time:
The defense attorney for former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin complained to the judge Monday that the jury for his client’s trial has not been sequestered, despite the jury likely being “bombarded” with outside messaging and media reports about the case.
Judge Peter Cahill, however, dismissed the concerns, telling attorney Eric Nelson, “Well, to be fair, the last few times I advised [the jury], I told them not to watch the news, pure and simple.”
Nelson argued that it’s virtually impossible for the jurors to get away from the outside press and messages, highlighting that jurors were not told to stay away from all media, but only to try to avoid media that pertains to the case. The attorney also noted that he had to get rid of an email account over “literally thousands and thousands and thousands” of messages from outsiders, and that alerts on his smart devices are at times unavoidable.
The defense attorney added that messaging over the case has even popped up in television shows, at least two of them within the past few days. … Most notably, Nelson referenced recent comments made by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) that seemingly encouraged violence if Chauvin is not convicted. This, too, was dismissed by Judge Cahill concerning a mistrial, though he did blast the congresswoman and told Nelson she could have given him a lane for an appeal.
Perhaps adding to juror intimidation, a witness called by the defense was reportedly targeted by activists this past weekend over his testimony that was largely viewed as helpful to Chauvin.
Former police officer Barry Brodd’s former home was smeared with animal blood, and a severed pig’s head was left at the front porch, The Daily Wirereported. Notably, anti-police activists have commonly referred to police officers as “pigs.” Brodd is a former police officer.
Nelson formally filed for a new trial on May 4, The Daily Wire reported: “Attorney Eric Nelson called for a new trial in the court filing on several grounds, including an accusation that the court violated Chauvin’s right to due process and fair trial when the court decided against sequestering the jury and granting a venue change.”
“The Court abused its discretion when it failed to sequester the jury for the duration of the trial, or in the least, admonish them to avoid all media, which resulted in jury exposure to prejudicial publicity regarding the trial during the proceedings, as well as jury intimidation and potential fear of retribution among jurors, which violated Mr. Chauvin’s constitutional rights to due process and to a fair trial,” the filing reads in part.
“Nelson also argued that the court violated Chauvin’s rights by not ordering Morries Hall — the man in the car with Floyd before his death — to testify at the trial or to submit into evidence ‘his statements to law enforcement regarding his’ interaction with Floyd,” The Daily Wire noted. “According to The New York Times, Hall invoked the Fifth Amendment during the trial after his lawyer argued that Hall’s testimony could expose him to drug-related charges.”