Contingency plan in place in case additional jurors are needed in Chauvin trial
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Derek Chauvin’s jury has been selected but there is a contingency plan in place in case they need to quickly find additional jurors.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill still has access to a pool of potential jurors originally called up for duty.
"I’m still not going to release the jury pool — until the jury is sworn [in] — in the off chance we have to pick some alternates,” Cahill said Tuesday.
Going into Monday’s opening statements at the Hennepin County Government Center, the judge already has an extra juror available if one of the 14 previously selected drops out.
But that potential jury pool is not available when testimony starts in the case.
That means, if a juror was to be released for illness or removed for "cause" at that point, the trial could continue with fewer jurors to listen to the case, according to experts.
But if the jury drops below 12 people, that creates a problem, according to former criminal defense attorney and University of St. Thomas Law Professor Rachel Moran.
"Minnesota does allow the parties by consent to have a jury smaller than 12, but no one would do that in this case with so much at stake,” Moran said. “There’s no way Mr. Chauvin is going to agree to a smaller jury, so what would almost certainly happen is a mistrial."
Social distancing limitations due to COVID-19 in the courtroom is the reason Cahill said only 14 people can serve on the jury.