Appeals court: Noor conviction precedent, judge in Chauvin trial must consider reinstating 3rd-degree murder charge

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Friday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that a district court judge made an error by not allowing the state to reinstate a third-degree murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin is currently charged with manslaughter and second-degree murder in the death of George Floyd.

In the appeal, the state asked the Court of Appeals to reinstate a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin because of the same court’s recent decision in the Mohamed Noor case.

In the decision issued by the Court of Appeals Friday, the judge ruled the opinion in the Noor case became a precedent on the day it was issued.

State seeks to reinstate 3rd-degree murder charge against Chauvin following new precedent set in Noor appeal

"The district court therefore erred by concluding that it was not bound by the principles of law set forth in Noor and by denying the state’s motion to reinstate the charge of third-degree murder on that basis," the decision reads.

With the decision, it is now up to Judge Peter Cahill whether the third-degree charge will be reinstated.

"What’s going to happen as a result of this Court of Appeals opinion is throwing it back to the district court saying you can’t rule on the basis you did before, but you have to have a hearing to allow the defense to argue other reasons to keep out third-degree murder as a charge," said Mark Osler, University of St. Thomas Law Professor.

KSTP’s complete Derek Chauvin trial coverage

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued the following statement on the matter:

“We believe the Court of Appeals decided this matter correctly. We believe the charge of 3rd-degree murder, in addition to manslaughter and felony murder, reflects the gravity of the allegations against Mr. Chauvin. Adding this charge is an important step forward in the path toward justice. We look forward to presenting all charges to the jury in Hennepin County."

Former defense attorney and current law professor Rachel Moran said jury selection could possibly begin Monday and arguments on charges are likely to be held as well.

"It’s the time frame that makes this truly a bizarre situation, I can’t think of another example where a significant case is on the verge of going to trial with such a major issue decided in the case, and not even a clear path about how we will reach a final decision," Moran said.

Moran added that an appeal by Chauvin’s attorney to the Minnesota Supreme Court could possibly delay the case.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, for comment on the decision and if he planned to appeal to the Supreme Court. He had no comment at the moment.

The Chauvin case is scheduled to be called Monday at 8 a.m. to hear motions.