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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty in the contentious and highly-publicized case concerning the death George Floyd.
Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, and the former officer was sentenced to 20 years behind bars in 2021.
The Supreme Court did not specify why it would not take up the case. Notably, the high court only hears about 100 appeals of the 7,000 or so cases it’s asked to review annually.
Attorney William Mohrman filed an appeal on behalf of Chauvin, arguing, in part, that his client was denied the right to a fair trial.
Videos of Floyd’s detainment on the ground by Chauvin went viral in 2020, sparking protests and riots across the U.S. and even Europe. Mohrman argued that holding the trial in Minneapolis, where the incident occurred, effectively guaranteed Chauvin an unfair trial.
“Under the Sixth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution, every criminal defendant is guaranteed a right to a fair trial,” the attorney told The Daily Wire via a phone interview. “And part of that fair trial-right is not to be tried in a location where the jurors have either been exposed to extensive pre-trial publicity, or there has been such community outrage and the like that the jurors, before they even were impaneled before the trial, would have concluded the defendant’s guilty, or would have been pressured into rendering a guilty verdict.”
“When that happens,” Mohrman said, “the Supreme Court precedents require that the case be moved to another location or venue, as the law puts it.” However, that’s not what happened with Chauvin’s case.
“During the questioning, I would say the vast majority — not only the vast majority, probably 75 to 80 percent of the jurors — expressed concerns for their own personal safety as a result of being impaneled on the jury,” he said. “Virtually every juror had obviously heard about the case, knew about the riots, had seen the videos that were taken when George Floyd was arrested; virtually all the jurors have seen that, so it’s difficult in a case like that to impanel the jury where the jurors haven’t formed firm conclusions before the trial even starts.”
Mohrman noted that the legal team’s “primary argument” is that “due to the riots that took place in Minneapolis, every juror who was impaneled had a stake in the outcome of the trial, because no juror would want to see their communities burned again in riots.”
There is also a Federal Civil Rights conviction against Chauvin, for which he is serving over 20 years concurrently with his state sentence. Challenging that conviction is a separate legal action.