The defense attorney who represented former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin submitted a formal request for a new trial on Tuesday, according to Politico.
Attorney Eric Nelson cited evidence of jury misconduct and “abuse of discretion” by the court, which ultimately prevented Officer Chauvin from receiving a fair trial. Nelson pointed to Judge Peter Cahill’s refusal to move the trial to another county, even though the case had received major media attention prior to the start of the trial, in a manner that tainted the jury selection pool. He also criticized Cahill’s decision to not sequester the jury for the entirety of the trial, which allowed them to be exposed to ongoing media coverage that was overwhelmingly biased against Chauvin.
“The publicity here was so pervasive and so prejudicial before and during this trial that it amounted to a structural defect in the proceedings,” Nelson explained in his filing.
Officer Chauvin was found guilty last month on all three counts in the death of George Floyd, who was arrested for attempting to make a purchase at a grocery store with a counterfeit $20 bill, and for displaying behavior that indicated he was under the influence of drugs. After Floyd died in police custody, the official autopsy report confirmed that he had died of a fentanyl overdose. Nevertheless, Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
Even before the verdict was read on April 20th, there was speculation that his lawyers had a strong case for appeal. Among other examples, several prominent politicians had publicly declared their belief that Chauvin was guilty, including Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Joe Biden. In addition, Black Lives Matter terrorists attempted to intimidate defense witnesses by vandalizing their homes, and at least one juror in the trial was found to be an avid supporter of Black Lives Matter while failing to disclose this fact on his jury selection questionnaire.