The former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd apparently doesn't think kneeling on someone's neck for more than nine minutes until they die is murder. Derek Chauvin filed an appeal of his murder conviction and 22.5-year sentence on Thursday, the last day he could legally do so, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "The District Court abused its discretion when it denied Appellant’s motion for change of venue or a new trial," Chauvin stated in the appeal request the Star Tribune obtained.
He also accused the state of committing "prejudicial prosecutorial misconduct" and abusing its discretion when it didn’t sequester the jury throughout the trial, “failed to make an official record of the numerous sidebar conferences that occurred during trials,” and denied an earlier motion for a new trial “due to juror misconduct.”
Chauvin listed in the appeal document 14 issues with the trial including:
“(1) The District Court abused its discretion when it denied Appellant’s motion for change ofvenue or a new trial;
(2) The District Court abused its discretion when it denied Appellant’s motion for a continuance or a new trial;
(3) The District Court abused its discretion when it denied Appellant’s motions to sequester thejury throughout trial;
(4) The State committed prejudicial prosecutorial misconduct;
(5) The District Court prejudicially erred when it concluded that the testimony of Morries Hall, or in the alternative Mr. Hall’s statements to law enforcement, did not fall under Minn. R. Evid. 804(b)(3) and was not a violation Appellant’s constitutional confrontation rights;
(6) The District Court prejudicially erred when it permitted the State to present cumulative evidence with respect to use of force;
(7) The District Court abused its discretion when it ordered the State to lead witnesses on direct examination;
(8) The District Court abused its discretion when it failed to make an ofﬁcial record ofthe numerous sidebar conferences that occurred during trials;
(9) The District Court abused its discretion when it failed to allow Appellant to exercise several cause strikes for clearly biased jurors during voir dire;
(10) The District Court abused its discretion when it permitted the State of amend its complaint to add the charge of third-degree murder;
(11) The District Court abused its discretion when it strictly limited and undercut the admissibility of George Floyd’s May 6, 2019 arrest;
(12) The District Court abused its discretion when it submitted instructions to the jury that materially misstated the law;
(13) The District Court abused its discretion when it by denying Appellant’s motion for a Schwartz hearing;
(l4) The District Court abused its discretion when it denied Appellant’s post-verdict motion for a new trial due to juror misconduct.”
Many of the arguments Chauvin raised had already been brought before the court by Eric Nelson, the attorney who represented him in the murder trial. The third-degree murder charge and Hall’s participation in the trial were on that list. Hall, a friend of Floyd's who was with him before his death, invoked his Fifth Amendment right protecting him against self-incrimination during the trial in April. Adrienne Cousins, Hall's attorney, said in court that Hall’s car has been searched twice and drugs have been found inside of it both times. “This leaves Mr. Hall potentially incriminating himself into a future prosecution of third-degree murder,” she said. Judge Peter Cahill agreed.
THIS MORNING: Attorney for Morries Hall, who was with George Floyd on the day he died and allegedly sold him drugs, explains that Hall is invoking his 5th Amendment rights to avoid exposure to a 3rd degree murder charge. pic.twitter.com/DOZcvgNUxT
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) April 6, 2021
The decision to include the charge of third-degree murder in the case, however, wasn’t as clean cut. Cahill went back and forth in his decision but ended up determining that based on the precedent set in the case against former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, the charge should be included in Chauvin’s case. "I feel bound by that," Cahill said, "and I feel it would be an abuse of discretion not to grant the [state's] motion."
The Minnesota Supreme Court overturned the third-degree murder conviction against Noor on Wednesday. Noor was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after shooting and killing a woman who called 911 to report a potential sexual assault behind her home. Noor testified during his trial in 2019 that while he was a passenger in his partner's car he heard a “loud bang on his squad car” that scared Noor so much he reached across his partner to fire through the driver's side window.
Because Noor was only sentenced on the murder count, his case will return to district court for sentencing on the manslaughter count, which could end in his supervised release around the year’s end, The Associated Press reported. Chauvin, however, was sentenced on the highest charge he was convicted of, second-degree murder. Third-degree murder requires a lower burden of proof than second-degree murder and is usually applicable when the accused acts in a way that endangers multiple people’s lives and kills one of those people, MSNBC’s Joy Reid explained during an interview with civil rights attorney Ben Crump. It’s unclear if the recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision would affect Chauvin’s appeal effort.
In the earlier proceedings against the murderer, Nelson also zeroed in on juror Brandon Mitchell over what he wore and what he said after a rally to commemorate the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Mitchell, juror No. 52, told CBS-affiliated WCCO he attended the event to go to a related voter registration rally, and he explained that a photograph of him in a T-shirt with King's image and the words, “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks,” and “BLM” was only meant to make a broader reference to the circumstances of 2020. Nelson asked Mitchell how protests were related to the facts and evidence of the case during jury selection, and he responded that they weren't. “Well there’s no correlation between the protest and the facts,” Mitchell said. “The facts are the facts. There’s no correlation between those two things.” Nelson later struck out on getting a mistrial declared because of Mitchell and Rep. Maxine Waters.
Brandon Mitchell was one of the jurors who convicted Derek Chauvin for George Floyd's murder. He's speaking TRUTH to POWER with courage to share his experiences from such an emotionally draining trial! pic.twitter.com/0RIjZ8R7pG
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 29, 2021
Prior to the jury being sequestered for deliberations, Waters answered an interviewer's question about what demonstrators should do if Chauvin isn't convicted with: “We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”
With that, Nelson brought up the possibility of a mistrial and said the jury should have been sequestered from the start of the trial. “My phone gives me alerts on things that just happened. I mean you can’t avoid it, and it is so pervasive that I just don’t know how this jury can really be said to be that they are free from the taint of this,” Nelson said. “And now that we have U.S. representatives threatening acts of violence in relation to this specific case, it’s mind-boggling to me judge.”
Chauvin trial Judge Peter Cahill responds to defense request for a mistrial over comments by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA):
“I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.” pic.twitter.com/jPp7zl0iGd
— The Recount (@therecount) April 19, 2021
Cahill admonished Waters but ruled that her remarks weren’t grounds for a mistrial. “Well, I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned (...)” Cahill said.
Chauvin trial judge denies the defense's request for a mistrial, BUT he did SLAM Maxine Waters for her threatening comments in Minnesota this weekend to jurors, calling them "abhorrent" and "disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function." pic.twitter.com/rAoa1QvcqZ
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) April 19, 2021
Published with permission from Daily Kos.