Applauding The Chauvin Verdict Is Premature

The jury deliberated for 10 hours, and the verdict is in, convicted on all counts. Derrick Chauvin is going to prison. The country can breathe a collective sigh of relief. The Twin Cities and other places won’t burn. The Justice System works. No, the System failed, and it did it big time. 

Do I think Derrick Chauvin was innocent? In a June 2020 post, “A Different Perspective,” I expressed the thought it might’ve been intentional murder. There were reports Chauvin and Floyd worked at the same club and might’ve known each other. A grudge leads to Chauvin’s deadly measures. Just indifference didn’t seem to explain what happened. I never thought he was innocent.

The problem is the handling of the trial. If ever a case needed a change of venue, this was it. It had every element needed to move the proceeding elsewhere. Massive publicity was only the beginning. The Twin Cities already had experienced riots over this murder. A police precinct station torched. Ignoring fear and possible intimidation isn’t an option. It’s not as if there weren’t other options, such as Duluth, available.

Judge Peter Cahil, entering his courthouse, saw the fences and concrete barricades. Did he think they were there for decoration? He had to be aware of the combustibility of the Twin Cities area. Continued demonstrations and unlawful occupation of part of the county continued throughout the process.

Under similar circumstances, a judge granted O.J. Simpson’s defense a change of venue. Judge Cahill ignored the cloud of fear overhanging the Twin cities, even though this could lead to the intimidation of jurors or witnesses. Cahill made his first error.

If his courthouse fortifications didn’t give Cahill pause, it indeed came into play when the jury was selected. A dismissed juror put it this way, “I was sort of thinking it’s going to snowball; it’s going to get bigger and bigger as the days go by, and I don’t know if I want to deal with all that comes with that,” he said in court. “The media attention, the people outside the courthouse, all the guards and stuff, it’s just a lot for me to take in.” Joseph H. Low IV, a Los Angeles criminal defense and civil trial lawyer,¬†told¬†ABC News that he expects the bolstered security to continue to have a chilling effect on selecting a jury.

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