Jury selection is nearly complete in the high-profile trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer, facing murder and manslaughter charges for the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man whose death changed the face of the nation.
Monday, March 22nd marked Day 11 of the jury selection process. One more juror is needed, one more than originally anticipated, for a total of 15.
After a full day of dismissals, only one more was seated.
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Judge Peter Cahill said he will have 12 more jurors for Tuesday.
“Twelve or Bust,” he said in closing.
Meanwhile, there will be more National Guard officers called forth to protect the Hennepin Courtroom for proceedings set to start on March 29th.
Floyd’s death, captured on a widely seen bystander video, set off weeks of sometimes violent protests across the country and led to a national reckoning on racial justice.
Minneapolis is the largest city in the northern US state of Minnesota. The jury selected so far is arguably more culturally diverse than the actual demographics of the state.
Jury Selection Continues in Day 11
Juror 115, a female nursing assistant, “strongly agreed” on their questionnaire that blacks/minorities vs whites are not treated equally in the system.
They were “very favorable” to “black lives matter” and “very unfavorable” to “blue lives matter.”
She expressed a supposed “neutral” opinion about George Floyd, although she’d participated in a couple of marches and carried a sign with “fist” on it.
The defense struck Juror 115.
Juror 116, a male who describes himself as a very quiet guy” who is into fishing and deer hunting, mentioned concerns that following a recent policy change, his employer would not pay for jury duty.
Judge Cahill touched on the recent press conference about the civil case, reminding Juror 116 those are two different cases, two different parties, etc.
On the video recording the murder of George Floyd, Juror 116 said he could only recall seeing a news clip versus the actual video, given he’s not “a big media hound…”
Through his interrogation processes, Juror 116 stuttered and answered in broken sentences.
On safety concerns… “Things probably run through your head, safety is more of a concern for my family more for myself… regardless of how this goes… there are extremists on both sides…”
On any positive impacts from protests…
“Ummmm… definitely… ahhh… made this very aware to most people… right now you can’t really go too much anywhere with people talking about ‘it’.”
He also somewhat disagreed with defunding Minneapolis Police Department.
When the defense asked “Do you associate the riots with BLM?” Juror 116 who served on a jury 12 years ago responded:
“I would have to say that I possibly do, the riots seem to possibly…”
Juror 116 also stated that he’s had no experience with police, nor has friends had any. He “somewhat disagreed” that the criminal justice system is biased against minorities.
“I don’t have anything to base that on…. no personal experiences or observations…”
On learning he would be a juror on this case, he responded with an “Uh… oh boy… you know… I I I… I don’t know what all that is going to entail…”
State prosecution uses peremptory strike to have Juror 116 removed and dismissed.
Potential Juror 117 is female, speaks with an accent and said “my English is not perfect” and that she may not understand some words.
Judge Cahill excused her from service and indicated she didn’t understand some of the concepts of law the judge informed her about.
Juror 118 was seated, becoming the 14th juror. A woman in her 20s and social worker is the 9th female on the jury.
Juror 118 is “always looking at every side of things” which was obvious in her testimony.
She has talked with friends about police reform and that she thinks “there are things that should be changed.” But she also described police and their jobs as important.
Juror 118 said she will apply the presumption of innocence to Chauvin.
While she stated that she holds a “somewhat negative or neutral” view of Chauvin, she was able to realize that it was due to the negative views from “constant” media coverage.
She said that she personally feels safe with police in her community, and is neutral on both “black lives matter” and “blue lives matter.”
“Everyone… matters,” said Juror 118 who services people all ages, in the realm of mental health and chemical health.
Juror 119 had heard of the recent settlement, the largest pre-trial settlement in a civil rights wrongful death case in American history, stating it was hard to avoid, and that the news slanted his view too much and cannot be fair and impartial.
The judge dismissed him for cause.
“Are you hoping for one verdict?” the judge asked Juror 120.
“I don’t think I’m neutral on that … I would say guilty,” he responded.
Juror 120 dismissed for cause.
Juror 121, a male who has worked in a retail warehouse for more than three years, was also dismissed by the defense.
Juror 121 apparently made a dig on his questionnaire that Chauvin is guilty of “violating the I before E law” in response to a serious inquiry.
But when Derek Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson pressed him on it, he said he had no recollection of writing, which is arguably off putting.
He said he was fifty-fifty when it came to serving on as a juror. It would be interesting but high-pressure, he indicated, “so there’s that aspect as well.”
The defense actually used a peremptory strike to remove Juror 121, although the judge felt the juror was evasive. Cahill told Nelson that they can revisit if defense runs out of peremptory strikes.
They have 3 left.
So that leaves us at:
- 14/15 jurors seated
- 15/18 defense peremptory challenges used
- 8/10 prosecution peremptories used
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