Derek Chauvin's legal team requests new trial, alleging jury misconduct

Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd last month.

May 5, 2021, 10:19 AM

The legal team for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering George Floyd last month, has filed a motion in a Minneapolis court requesting a new trial on multiple grounds, including jury misconduct.

In the filing, Chauvin’s attorney says the former officer should have a new trial in the "interests of justice; abuse of discretion that deprived the Defendant of a fair trial; prosecutorial and jury misconduct; errors of law at trial; and a verdict that is contrary to law."

"The jury committed misconduct, felt threatened or intimidated, felt race-based pressure during the proceedings, and/or failed to adhere to instructions during deliberations, in violation of Mr. Chauvin's constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial," attorney Eric Nelson writes in the filing.

PHOTO: Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin listens as the verdict is read in his trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin listens as the verdict is read in his trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.
Court TV via AP, FILE

The motion comes as a photo circulating on social media shows juror Brandon Mitchell wearing a Black Lives Matter hat and a shirt with a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. that says, "get your knee off our necks."

Mitchell told The Star Tribune that his uncle posted the photo. Mitchell said he attended an Aug. 28 event commemorating the anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

"I think I was being extremely honest" during the jury selection process, Mitchell said. "I gave my views on everything -- on the case, on Black Lives Matter."

Nelson also claimed the court failed to sequester the jury during the trial, which resulted in their exposure "to prejudicial publicity regarding the trial during the proceedings, as well as jury intimidation and potential fear of retribution among jurors."

Also among the nearly dozen bases for the motion cited in the filing, Nelson claims the court "abused its discretion and violated Mr. Chauvin's rights under the Confrontation Clause" when it "failed to order" Morries Hall, a key witness, to testify or admit into evidence his statements to police. Hall was in a car with Floyd the day he died. Judge Peter Cahill quashed a subpoena for him to testify.

"The cumulative effect of the multiple errors in these proceedings deprived Mr. Chauvin of a fair trial, in violation of his constitutional rights," writes Nelson, who is requesting a hearing to impeach the guilty verdict.

John Stiles, deputy chief of staff for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, said in a statement to ABC News, "The court has already rejected many of these arguments and the State will vigorously oppose them."

Floyd's killing in May 2020, captured on cellphone video that later went viral, sparked protests nationwide. Chauvin could be seen kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly 10 minutes during an arrest after he allegedly passed a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store.

Chauvin was found guilty April 20 of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25 and faces up to 40 years in prison, though Minnesota sentencing guidelines suggest he's more likely to receive up to 15 years due to his lack of a prior criminal record.

Ellison has asked Cahill to hand down a severe sentence to Chauvin for acting with "particular cruelty" in the death of Floyd, according to a legal briefing filed Friday.

Nelson opposed a harsher sentence in a separate filing Friday, arguing that Chauvin was authorized under Minnesota law to "use reasonable force" in the encounter.

ABC News' Bill Hutchinson, Marlene Lenthang and Mark Osborne contributed to this report.

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