Below are primarily conservative-leaning articles or blog posts that I have found enlightening with all that is going on in America and the World right now.
If you take the time to read some of them it should open your eyes to the reality of the #DeepState, #NewWorldOrder Movement, #MediaBias, and #FakeNews along with the relentless attack on American values by the #Progressive Movement.
Think of it as working on a large puzzle, as you read more and more about what is going on, things begin to fall into place and you can see the big picture, hopefully
You can use the search function to find areas of interest to you by holding down the CTRL-key at the lower left of your keyboard and simultaneously pressing the F-key and then entering a word in the pop-up box that appears toward the top of your screen. This will show you how many articles there are with that word in the title. Then press the up or down arrow to see each article title.
On April 5th, these two generals spoke for about an hour on several important topics that face patriots that love America.
Because they expose much of what has been going on that is being hidden by the mainstream media and big tech, I have a feeling it might not be on YouTube for much longer! (You’ll know why after you watch the interview)
If you find that the video below has been removed by YouTube, click on the link below to watch it for free on the Brighteon video platform.
Scott Johnson of POWERLINE Blog has been following the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floy closely. For those interested in what is going on inside the courtroom I am providing daily updates on his reports below. This will continue through the end of the trial.
Personally, while I don’t condone the use of his knee on the neck of Mr. Floyd it is clear that Floyd had health problems that were exacerbated by taking illegal drugs, and that what most like led to his death. However, what counts is how the jurors vote at the conclusion of the trial.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is charged with the murder of George Floyd last year on May 25. Floyd’s death set off ten days or ten months that shook the world. These notes are intended as a preview of the trial. Beginning with jury selection, the trial begins one week from today in Hennepin County District Court before Judge Peter Cahill. John Hinderaker offered a good overview in “A city prepares for a trial.”
• I signed up with the court to cover the trial for Power Line. My former colleague Greg Pulles has offered to pitch in by pinch-hitting for me on occasion as well.
• The arrangements for press coverage are unusual. They are set forth in this February 16 press release. Only two reporters at a time are to be allowed into the courtroom itself. They will serve as pool reporters.
• The rest of us have been assigned seats with access to the video live stream in the county’s Media Business Center across the street from the courthouse. I have also expressed interest in access to the live stream of the trial outside the media and business center, but it is not at all clear to me who else will have access to it. We await further announcements from the court.
• The court has set up a page for the Chauvin case here. All public filings in the case by the parties or the court are posted on that page. Separate pages have been set up for the three former officers also charged with responsibility for Floyd’s death. The separate pages for their cases are accessible on Chauvin’s page.
• The charges against Chauvin were brought in a lynch mob atmosphere led by Governor Tim Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison, and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. They publicly pronounced Chauvin and the other officers guilty many times over last spring and summer.
• Those of us who took up law and/or journalism may have been inspired by Atticus Finch or John Adams or Woodward and Bernstein, but when the time came to face down the mob and talk back to the authorities, the lawyers and the press took their places in the crowd.
• Take the Star Tribune, for example. As the lynch mob formed and the city burned, the cat had their tongue. Star Tribune commentary editor D.J. Tice wrote an excellent column on “the challenge of a fair trial for Chauvin.” The column was published on February 20 — a little late in the game. And it stands more or less alone. (I raised the fair trial issue last year in posts including “Random thoughts on the Floyd case.”)
• At the behest of the mob, Governor Walz lifted responsibility for the prosecution from the office of the Hennepin County Attorney and assigned it to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. Ellison has named Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank to lead the prosecution.
• Ellison’s office employs more than 130 attorneys. Despite the huge staff of attorneys at his disposal, Ellison has called in reinforcements to assist them.
• This past June Ellison announced the appointment of four outside attorneys in private practice or serving as corporate counsel as special assistants on the case (press release here). The special assistants include Steve Schleicher of Maslon LLP, Jerry Blackwell of Blackwell Burke, both of Minneapolis, and Lola Velázquez-Aguilu, lead counsel for brain modulation [!] at Medtronic in Fridley.
• The fourth outside attorney is the star of the group: former Obama administration acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, now in private practice at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C.
• Curious about the arrangements for their appointment, I filed a Data Practices Act request with Ellison’s office seeking the relevant documents. Deputy Attorney General David Voigt produced a set of repetitive and partly redacted documents in response to my request under cover of a letter dated December 1, 2020.
• In his (partly redacted) June 12 memo naming the attorneys he wanted to be deputized, Ellison wrote that “[i]n terms of our trial team [redacted], I propose we include a team that brings us the best of all our strengths….I want to lick [sic] this down by Wednesday, June 17.” Naming the first three attorneys above, Ellison rendered Schleicher’s name as “Schlisher.” He touted Lola Velasquez-Aguilu’s experience as “former federal prosecutors [sic], good trial lawyer, a former federal prosecutor.” He had a lot on his mind.
• Heavily redacted notes of a June 17 office meeting reflect that Ellison wanted “a pool of trial lawyers with diverse skills” and that Ellison’s proposed pool of outside attorneys was “diverse.”
• Katyal came later and, of the four special assistants featured in Ellison’s press release, only Katyal has been visible so far. As of this month, Hogan Lovells associate attorneys Harrison Gray Kilgore and Victoria Joseph have been granted leave to appear on behalf of the state in the case as well.
• All the outside attorneys named in the case are serving Ellison’s office pro bono. Katyal’s going rate in intellectual property cases is something like $1750 an hour.
• Chauvin is represented by criminal defense attorney Eric Nelson. So far as I am aware, he has no outside help, pro bono or otherwise. If you’re looking for Atticus Finch in the case, Nelson will have to serve.
• Judge Cahill is a former Assistant Hennepin County Attorney and a former criminal defense attorney. I have been favorably impressed with his rulings so far.
• The state wanted all four officers tried together. Judge Cahill has separated the case against the three other officers for trial this summer. The state’s interlocutory appeal of Cahill’s order was dismissed.
• Cahill dismissed the third-degree “depraved mind” murder charge against Chauvin. When the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently affirmed former Minneapolis police officer Mahamed Noor’s conviction on this charge, it cracked the door open to the charge in this case. Cahill ruled against the state’s motion seeking to reinstate the third-degree charge.
• The state has appealed Cahill’s ruling to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which has taken it upon an expedited basis. Attorneys for Noor, however, also intend to file a petition seeking review of the Court of Appeals ruling in that case with the Minnesota Supreme Court. It is not yet clear how the charge will be handled at trial.
• By assignment of Governor Walz, Ellison has sidelined and displaced the office of the Hennepin County Attorney in the case. Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Amy Sweasy may nevertheless be the most talented attorney in the state in the prosecution of police officers. She obtained Noor’s conviction in 2019.
• Ellison made his name around town as a Nation of Islam hustler supporting the defendants ultimately convicted for the murder of Minneapolis police officer Jerry Haaf in 1992. Among other things, Ellisonn spoke at a demonstration for one of the defendants during the trial in February 1993. Ellison led the crowd assembled at the courthouse in a chant that was ominous in the context of Haaf’s cold-blooded murder: “We don’t get no justice, you don’t get no peace.” Ellison’s career seems to be closing a circle in this case.
• The court and environs are to be protected by officers and troops numbering in the thousands. “Protesters” promise to do their thing. The prospect of a fair trial in this atmosphere seems incredibly remote. We remain one step removed from the territory of The Ox-Bow Incident.
CHAUVIN PRETRIAL NOTES
This past Monday I previewed the trial of Derek Chauvin that commences with motions in limine at 8:00 a.m. and jury selection at 9:00 a.m. (Central) tomorrow morning. If you missed my preview and think you might find it of interest, it is posted here (including a link to the CourtTV live stream). I want to add these pretrial notes.• I will appear as a correspondent on the trial for our friends at Justice & Drew on KTLK 1130 AM. They have me scheduled to kick off their coverage in the 7:55 a.m. segment Monday.• The case against Chauvin raises critical questions of fact including Chavin’s training and the cause of Floyd’s death. These disputed questions of fact are for resolution by the jury under the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of proof that applies in criminal cases.• By far the key issue, however, is whether Chauvin can get a fair trial in the lynch mob atmosphere that pervades the case. The visible manifestation of this atmosphere is the closing of the scene of the trial — the Hennepin County Government Center — for regular business and its encampment behind concrete barriers and barbed wire.• In view of the atmosphere the court has submitted a 14-page questionnaire for completion by prospective jurors. The questionnaire is posted online here. It will play a substantial role in the process of jury selection.
• On Friday the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that Judge Cahill had improperly failed to treat its decision in the Noor case as binding precedent. It all but ordered Judge Cahill to reinstate the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin. The Court of Appeals decision is posted online here.
• I posted the Noor decision here. The Minnesota Supreme Court has agreed to review the Court of Appeals decision in the Noor case, but Noor’s appeal won’t even be heard by the Supreme Court until June. The Minnesota Supreme Court decision in the Noor case will be the last word on the applicability of the third-degree murder charge in these cases.
• Judge Cahill must formally decide whether to reinstate the third-degree murder charge. If he does so, will he delay the trial? I think he is highly unlikely to do so. The critical questions of fact remain the same.
• The court’s daily trial schedule is set forth in the court order posted online here (“Order regarding discovery, expert witness deadlines, and trial continuance”). Judge Cahill has allowed at least three weeks for jury selection. Opening statements are scheduled no earlier than March 29. The arrangements for jury selection reflect the lynch mob atmosphere that pervades the case.
• Chauvin has filed a laundry list of motions in limine that are posted online here. The state’s memorandum of law responding to the motions is posted online here. The state’s memorandum anticipates the prosecution’s kitchen-sink approach to the case.
• George Parry is an attorney and former prosecutor who has written at some length on the case for the American Spectator and his own Knowledge is Good site. I asked George what he thought of the evidence the state will seek to introduce against Chauvin. George responded with the following comments that are posted here with George’s kind permission:
As described, the nurse’s proffered testimony regarding how she purportedly could have intervened and saved Floyd and how prompt medical intervention would have saved him is highly speculative, and, to my mind, inadmissible. Even if the judge allows it, a competent cross examiner would have no difficulty blunting the impact of her opinion testimony and, quite possibly, turning her testimony to the advantage of the defense by taking her on cross step by step through the findings at autopsy and Floyd’s toxicology report.
The psychiatrist’s proffered testimony regarding Floyd’s panic and anxiety would only serve to reinforce the basis for finding that he died from excited delirium. Moreover, although as a doctor she would likely be allowed to offer an opinion regarding the cause of death, I am unaware of any body of psychiatric research or expertise pertaining to excited delirium. This is a cause of death almost exclusively within the purview of emergency room physicians who deal with it on a regular basis and who have amassed a body of relevant research.
The “blood choke” testimony does not address what is shown by the video evidence. That kind of choke hold shuts down the flow of blood borne oxygen to the brain by applying direct, focused force to both carotid arteries. There are two carotid arteries, one on each side of the neck. By kneeling on the side of Floyd’s neck, Chauvin might have blocked one carotid, but the other was on the flat pavement.
My old friend Dr. Michael Baden, who was retained by Floyd’s family to examine the body, has opined that the knee on the neck blocked the flow of blood borne oxygen to the brain, but that will be a tough sell given that the carotid on the opposite side of Floyd’s neck was on a flat surface and no focused, direct pressure was applied to it. Consequently, the proffered testimony of a martial arts expert about a choke hold that would apply direct, focused pressure to both carotids – and that does not appear in the video – would seem to be irrelevant.
As for the police procedure witnesses, Chauvin’s deviation from procedure appears to have been his failure to place Floyd in the “recovery position” (on his side) once he was subdued. But to my knowledge no one has ever argued that Floyd’s death was the result of positional asphyxiation which is the hazard that the recovery position is calculated to minimize.
And I don’t see why police and fire witnesses should be allowed to testify regarding the possible impact of Floyd’s proven massive fentanyl overdose. This is a matter for a toxicologist or, possibly, a forensic pathologist.
If I were defending Chauvin, even if the court allowed the foregoing testimony, in cross examination I would jam it down the prosecution’s throat.
With the possible exception of the police procedure witnesses, the proffered testimony impresses me as a desperate scattershot effort to prove the cause of death. If the prosecution had clear-cut, well-founded evidence proving that Chauvin’s actions caused Floyd’s death, it wouldn’t be trying to present this kind of nonsense.
• George contributed to the 24-minute documentary produced by Centaur Filmworks analyzing the video of George Floyd’s arrest as well as the autopsy and toxicology results (video below). When first posted on YouTube by Centaur, it racked up more than 100,000 views before the YouTube truth squad “disappeared” the number of views, issued warnings about its content, and then required viewers to sign in with their passwords and state their age before they were allowed access.
CHAUVIN TRIAL DAY 1
I anticipated that Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill would take up the prosecution’s motion to reinstate the third-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin first thing this morning at 8:00 and then commence jury selection at 9:00. Instead, the state moved to stay proceedings until the state’s effort to reinstate the third-degree murder charge results in a final judgment in the Court of Appeals or the Minnesota Supreme Court. The attorney for Chauvin announced that he would promptly seek review of the Court of Appeals decision requiring Judge Cahill to consider reinstatement of the third-degree murder charge under the Court of Appeals opinion in the Noor case in the Minnesota Supreme Court. This threw a wrench into the commencement of jury selection today. It appeared that Judge Cahill unsuccessfully sought guidance from the Court of Appeals with the input of the parties out of sight of the media this afternoon. Absent such guidance, Judge Cahill heard motions in limine over the course of an hour early this afternoon. The hearing concluded with his statement that “unless the Court of Appeals instructs me otherwise, we’re going to keep moving.” I believe it is the right thing to do. The prosecution is led by Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Matthew Frank. Chauvin is represented by defense attorney Eric Nelson. Meeting over the lunch hour, they agreed that 16 of the first 50 prospective jurors summoned to serve should be excused for cause based on their answers to the 14-page jury questionnaire I linked to yesterday in my pretrial notes. This suggests to me something of the difficulty of protecting Chauvin’s right to a fair trial in the lynch mob atmosphere that pervades the case.
Before his appointment to the bench by Governor Pawlenty, Judge Cahill worked both as a public defender in private practice as an attorney specializing in criminal defense. He also worked on the other side of the fence in the Office of the Hennepin County Attorney, where he rose to the level of Chief Deputy Hennepin County Attorney. Asking around town last week among those who know him, I was told he is “uniquely qualified” to handle the case.
Even so, the case raises fair trial challenges that I believe to be beyond the capacity of the judicial system. Perhaps a change of venue to Thief River Falls in northwestern Minnesota might mitigate the problem. Short of that, however, I don’t see it. The process of voir dire should in any event shed some light on this issue.
CHAUVIN TRIAL DAY 2
At the end of the first day of jury selection, three jurors had been seated. Looking for 16 — 12 and four alternates — the court might complete the process next week. Opening statements would not kick the trial proper off until March 29. Yesterday the parties stipulated to the dismissal of 16 of the first 50 prospective jurors for cause based on their answers to the 14-page questionnaire fashioned for the case. Today it took 9 prospective jurors to yield three. My imperfect notes reflect that three were excused as a result of peremptory strikes (one by the prosecution, two by the defense) and three for cause. Prospective juror number 1 was a woman originally from Mexico who spoke poor English with a heavy Spanish accent. I had a hard time understanding her. I thought her English was so bad I wondered if she could pass a citizenship test. Her husband helped her complete the juror questionnaire.
She rated her English a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. At least she has no problems with self-image. She certainly wanted to serve on the jury. Why? “Because I would like to give my opinion of the unjust death of George Floyd.” That’s how she framed her answer on the questionnaire. I thought that was the quote of the day. However, she will not be serving on the jury as a result of a peremptory strike by the defense.
Two of the prosecution’s pro bono attorneys appeared in court today: Steve Schleicher of the Maslon LLC and Jerry Blackwell of Blackwell Burke. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank will lead the prosecution of Chauvin for the state at trial. He must have been back in the office tending to the appellate issues raised by the state’s effort to reinstate the third-degree murder charge. Eric Nelson is handling Chauvin’s defense by himself in what looks like a David versus Goliath match-up.
The questionnaire completed by prospective jurors proved instrumental. The form is posted online here. The attorneys have capably used the completed questionnaires to home in on the issues of pretrial publicity, personal security, and other possible secondary effects of their verdict.
I was most impressed with Judge Peter Cahill. Although I continue to harbor doubts about the ability of the judicial system to deal with this case, I have no doubt that Judge Cahill will control the courtroom and protect Chauvin’s right to a fair trial insofar as it is in his power to do so.
CHAUVIN TRIAL DAY 3
Jury selection continued for a second day, starting with prospective juror number 20. Although he understands that the case is “a big deal,” he professed no concerns for his physical safety if he were to sit as a juror. He finds the anonymity with which Judge Cahill is shrouding the jurors to be comforting. How long can such anonymity last in the age of social media? He manages a national sales team of 20 for the company that employs him. When both defense counsel Eric Nelson and deputized prosecutor Steve Schleicher passed him for cause, we had our fourth juror and I thought we were on a roll.Next up was prospective juror number 23. He works for a marketing company and has lived in the Twin Cities for 40 years. He too expressed no concerns for his personal safety. He wants justice to be served in the case and was willing to participate as a juror to produce “a fair outcome.” He saw the “protests” that followed George Floyd’s death on television last summer. However, he “didn’t see any usefulness to it.” He didn’t see anything useful in “burning Lake Street.” That was enough for Mr. Schleicher. The State exercised a peremptory strike to get him out of there. And so it went. Nelson struck prospective juror number 26. He also professed no concern for his safety if he were to serve, but he seemed oriented to the perspective of the prosecution in the case, as seems to reflect the norm in Hennepin County.
Prospective juror number 27 is a multilingual immigrant. He came to the United States — I think from somewhere in Francophone Africa — 14 years ago. He works in IT. He loves technology. He expressed no concern for his physical safety. He said he wants to serve as a juror to make the justice system work. In response to questions posed by Schleicher, he stated he disagrees with proposals to defund the police. Passed for cause by both sides, he is our fifth juror in the case.
Prospective juror number 28 is in real estate sales. He expressed no concern for his physical safety. He stated in his juror questionnaire and in his response to Nelson’s questions that he has a very negative opinion of defendant Derek Chauvin. He is an advocate of police reform. His daughter participated in marches last summer. If he served on the jury and rendered a not guilty verdict he would disappoint her. I thought he would be a difficult juror for Chauvin and Nelson used his fourth peremptory challenge to strike him.
Prospective juror number 29 was a practicing lawyer early in her career. She wanted to serve on the jury. She projected an air of neutrality about the facts of the case. She said she needs to know more about “police protocols.” Schleicher struck her.
Juror number 30 loves music and works in a leadership position on the lay staff of a mid-size local church. His view of Chauvin is “very negative.” He thinks Chauvin murdered George Floyd. He reflects the full boat “social justice” mentality that afflicts Minneapolis. He was an obvious nightmare for the defense. Nelson tried manfully to get him stricken for cause but had to use another peremptory challenge to strike him.
At the end of the day, we had two more jurors and word that the Minnesota Supreme Court had denied review of the Court of Appeals decision ordering Judge Cahill to consider reinstatement of the third-degree murder charge under the Noor case. When the lawyers appear before him this morning at 8:00, they will take up the question of how to proceed on the third-degree charge with Judge Cahill. My understanding (partial guess) is that the third-degree charge is coming back into the case when the Court of Appeals decision becomes final and the trial court reacquires jurisdiction over the issue. Whether the third-degree charge remains viable will not be determined until the Minnesota Supreme Court decides the Noor case itself later this year.
Last night Tucker Carlson opened his show with an overview of the death of George Floyd and the resulting maelstrom (video below). He took up the questions of fact that are basic to the case. He closed the segment with my own reflections on the mob factor that troubles my thoughts about the case.
CHAUVIN TRIAL DAY 4
Late Wednesday the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued its final judgment on the interlocutory appeal of Judge Cahill’s order denying reinstatement of the third-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin. Under the Court of Appeals decision, Judge Cahill was to apply the Court of Appeals decision in the Noor case as a binding precedent. He heard arguments on the reinstatement issue from both sides first thing Thursday morning and granted the prosecution’s motion to reinstate the charge. Please note, however, that the viability of the charge as a matter of law remains subject to a future ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court in the Noor case later this year. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison omits any note of this wrinkle in his press release on the reinstatement of the charge. Defense counsel Eric Nelson has an all-Star team of attorneys arrayed against him in this case. Former Obama administration acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal argued the reinstatement issue via Zoom on behalf of the prosecution. Katyal is contributing his services to the prosecution, as is Maslon partner Steve Schleicher and Blackwell Burke partner Jerry Blackwell. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank will apparently lead the trial team in court with their assistance and that of another attorney or two from the Attorney General’s office.
The set-up reminds me of The Verdict, where a team of corporate lawyers works to crush Frank Galvin (Paul Newman) and his client. I always thought that aspect of the film was unrealistic, but here is something like a real-life version with the polarity of popular sympathies reversed.
As jury selection made clear again yesterday, Derek Chauvin is generally a hated figure among the pool of potential jurors. Everyone has seen the video. Everyone hates his face. That is one problem Paul Newman didn’t have to contend with in The Verdict.
This raises another point. As each panel of prospective jurors is brought in, Judge Cahill has the attorneys introduce themselves. Christina Marinkakis has been introduced several times as part of the prosecution team. I thought she was an attorney or legal assistant like the others, but no. She is a jury consultant. I seriously doubt that she is contributing her services to the state, which is sparing no expense to convict Chauvin and his former colleagues.
The attorneys examined six prospective jurors yesterday, yielding one — juror number 36 — whom I had down in my notes as a difficult juror for the defense. According to the responses on his juror questionnaire, his opinion of Chauvin is “very negative.” Having viewed the video, he thought Chauvin was just flaunting his authority in holding George Floyd down. However, he wasn’t enthusiastic about the riots that followed Floyd’s death. He believes the police are “here to help us.” He wants to see the big picture in the case. He professed to understand that he doesn’t yet have it. This is about as good as it’s going to get for Chauvin before the prosecution exercises a peremptory strike (as Schleicher did on juror number 38).
Judge Cahill adjourned before the scheduled time of 4:30 when juror number 41 cut to the chase at the end of the day. Taking her seat for voir dire, she stated that she wanted to amend one of her answers on the questionnaire. In light of the video, she had concluded that she could not be an impartial juror. Floyd’s death, she said, has impacted her life. She reiterated that she could not serve as a fair and impartial in the case. Schleicher tried without success to rehabilitate her. Judge Cahill excused her for cause and announced we would resume this morning at 9:00 a.m. (Central).
Attorney Andrew Branca is covering the case for Legal Insurrection. His colorful take on yesterday’s proceedings is here. In short, Judge Cahill struck jurors 31, 37, and 43 for cause. Nelson used peremptory challenges to strike jurors 39 and 40 (a music teacher whom I had noted as “a nightmare for the defense”).
Judge Cahill noted that juror 43 responded to every question on the questionnaire with the answer “No English.” He also failed to return the form stating his qualifications — citizenship and residence — to serve as a juror. I think juror 43 is, as they say, undocumented, but Minneapolis is a sanctuary city. Juror 43 will remain free to pursue other interests during the Chauvin trial.
When Schleicher made a Batson challenge to Nelson’s peremptory strike of juror 39 — I had him down in my notes as “tough for the defense” — Judge Cahill ruled that Schleicher had not even made out a prima facie case supporting the challenge. He added that three of the six jurors seated so far identify as white, one as multiracial, one as Hispanic and one as black.
CHAUVIN TRIAL DAY 5
The big news on Chauvin trial day 5 took place over at the Minneapolis City Council, as our friends at Justice & Drew call it. The city settled the wrongful death case brought by George Floyd’s next of kin for the world-beating sum of $27 million. The Star Tribune reports: “Attorneys for the Floyd family hailed it as the largest pretrial settlement in a civil rights wrongful death lawsuit in U.S. history, saying the payout sent a powerful statement about the value of Black lives in America.” The screenshot below depicts the Star Tribune above the fold on page 1 this morning, while we are about midway in the process of jury selection.
If I were counsel for Chauvin I think I would want to revisit the issue of venue with Judge Cahill just about every day. The five prospective jurors interviewed yesterday yielded one woman — juror number 42 — who will sit on the jury. She is the seventh selected as we head toward 14 or 16 (including two or four alternates).
Juror number 44 is an executive with a health care nonprofit. Her opinion of Chauvin based on the videos she has seen is “somewhat negative.” She expressed sympathy for George Floyd (“he didn’t deserve to die”) and the officers. “Everyone’s life was changed by this incident,” she said.
She believes that our laws haven’t kept up with social changes. Reform is needed. She believes that the judicial system is racially biased, that excessive force against blacks must stop, that the system is “inherently biased,” that “white privilege” is a reality.
However, she is an analytical person who asserts she can and will be fair and impartial. She understands she is required to render “a verdict based on the facts.” She is not good for the defense but Nelson passed her for cause because he has a limited number of peremptory strikes and an unfavorable jury pool with which to contend.
Judge Cahill announced that the parties had agreed to the release of prospective jurors 58, 80, 81, 84, 93, 94, and 100 for cause. Twenty-three of the first 100 prospective jurors have accordingly been released for cause by agreement of the parties. It is representative of the venue problem that permeates the case.
Understanding the interest in the jury, Judge Cahill authorized the release of the following information on the seven jurors seated so far.
· No. 2: white male; 20s
· No. 9: multi/mixed-race woman; 20s
· No. 19: white male; 30s
· No. 20: white male; 30s
· No. 27: black male; 30s
· No. 36: Hispanic male; 20s
· No. 44: white woman; 50s
Our friends at Justice & Drew at KTLK 1130 AM/103.5 FM have deputized me as their correspondent on the case. I appeared for a segment each morning this week at 8:00 a.m. Producer Samantha Sansevere kindly clipped the audio of these segments and posted them here. Yesterday morning Howard Root joined us. Given Howard’s personal experience as a criminal defendant, I thought it was a particularly lively segment. I have embedded it below.
CHAUVIN TRIAL DAY 6
At the end of the motion hearing yesterday morning, defense counsel Eric Nelson expressed his grave concern over the effect of the city’s world-beating $27 million wrongful death settlement in the civil litigation resulting from the death of George Floyd. Nelson cited prejudicial comments made by Mayor Frey and the members of the city council in support of the settlement. With seven jurors selected and released until the beginning of the trial proper on March 29, he complained of the settlement’s “suspicious timing” and “unavoidable headlines.”Nelson accordingly moved for a continuance of proceedings scheduled for March 29, renewed his change of venue motion, and asked for further voir dire of the seven jurors on their possible exposure to news of the settlement. He also asked for extra peremptory strikes and immediate sequestration. “This should be the subject of a hearing,” Nelson argued, to be added to a hearing on the leak to the New York Times regarding settlement negotiations in Chauvin’s criminal case. The last point follows from Tim Arango’s February 10 New York Times story. Defendants have filed a dismissal motion predicated on the possible violation of the court’s gag order that the story represents. I am not aware that any hearing has been scheduled on that motion. In response, Steven Schleicher — one of the several attorneys contributing his services to the Chauvin prosecution — argued that the state had no control over the comments made by city officials. He argued further that the settlement was not coordinated by the state and that jurors have expressed their ability to set publicity aside. Judge Cahill drily responded: “You would agree that it’s unfortunate.” The defense has “a legitimate concern,” he observed. The only motion he granted, however, was further voir dire of the seven jurors selected so far. As for the rest, he added, “Let’s wait to see if we have a problem.” As I’ve been saying right along, we have a problem, but I’m not sure the judicial system can mitigate it. Judge Cahill concluded his comments by taking the motion for a continuance under advisement. I think the same applies to the defense’s renewed motion for change of venue.
Juror number 51 illustrated one set of prejudice problems. She had inadvertently heard about the settlement over the weekend. She works in human resources and had a sophisticated understanding of the interplay between civil and criminal litigation. She drove by the Third Precinct on her way to court that morning, she said, as well as past the no-go zone honoring George Floyd at 38th and Chicago. She has been exposed to so much, she said, she is leaning way over to one side. The settlement impacted her as well. She could perhaps be impartial in the case of the other three officers charged with Floyd’s death, but not in this one. So long, juror number 51.
Juror number 52 professed to be “a friendly, positive person.” He works in banking and coaches youth sports. He sounded to me like an extremely decent and reasonable man, but he has views that would have made me want to strike him. He believes that racial discrimination exists “well beyond what the media can report.” He thought that the other three officers should have intervened to stop Chauvin, as has just about every prospective juror, but he professed his ability to be impartial and follow the law as given. He wants to serve as a juror. He would love to be a part of “this historic case,” he said. A black male in his 30’s, he was the eighth juror seated in the case.
Juror number 54 expressed doubt that he could be impartial. A senior citizen who could have been excused as a matter of course by his age, he was excused for cause.
Juror number 55 struck me as dangerous for the defense. She is a white woman in her 50’s who is an executive assistant at a health clinic. On the jury questionnaire, she said she has a “somewhat negative” view of both Derek Chauvin and Black Lives Matter. She expressed concerns for her personal safety depending on “the end result.” The question, she said, is how others will perceive the verdict. I read her as a possible leader on the jury. Juror number 55 is the ninth juror seated in the case.
I thought we were on a roll, but no. Jurors number 59 and 62 were excused for cause. Fifty-nine is a school teacher. By my lights, he would probably have been out on that ground alone. He doubted he could grant Chauvin the presumption of innocence. “I’m almost sick to my stomach right now,” he said.
Juror number 62 channeled the concerns I have expressed here and elsewhere about the case. He noted that it would be difficult to confine the decision to the courtroom. He wonders if the safety of his family would be at risk if the outcome of the case were to go “a certain way.” That’s one way to put it. I’ll have to remember that one.
Juror number 60 doesn’t like controversy. He is an undergraduate who would like to go to law school. He doesn’t want to make anybody angry. He seemed to me to understand the intellectual environment he’s swimming in with great acuity. He perceives the college campus as liberal ground. He had no opinion of Chauvin’s conduct. He is also scared he might make the wrong decision in the case. I read him as a classic follower. He would have gone with the flow in deliberations. I thought Nelson wasted a peremptory strike to remove him from the jury panel.
CHAUVIN TRIAL DAY 7
In the time reserved for motion hearings yesterday morning, Judge Cahill heard defense counsel Eric Nelson’s offer of proof on George Floyd’s May 2019 encounter with the Minneapolis police. Floyd was high at the time and in medical distress. Previously ruled inadmissible, Judge Cahill indicated he would revisit the issue and took it under advisement. He indicated he would announce his ruling on Thursday, as I understood his comments. My assessment is that the evidence may be admissible in part insofar as it bears on the cause of death, but it is otherwise not coming in. Although precisely no jurors were seated, the day proved interesting and eventful in its ow