Attorneys for former Minneapolis officers in George Floyd case file objections to gag order

From left: Derek Chauvin, J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. Photo: Hennepin County Jail. From left: Derek Chauvin, J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.

Josh Skluzacek
Updated: July 14, 2020 10:38 AM
Created: July 13, 2020 10:37 AM

The attorneys for former Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and Alexander J Kueng who are charged in the death of George Floyd, on Monday filed objections to a gag order issued last week by a judge.

In the order on Thursday, Judge Peter Cahill said pretrial publicity "will increase the risk of tainting a potential jury pool and will impair all parties' right to a fair trial."

However, Chauvin's legal team says only one side has been talking about the case publicly.

Judge: Attorneys for former officers charged in Floyd death not to discuss case with media, public

In the filing, Chauvin's attorney argues that Chauvin and his legal team haven't talked to the press about the case but the state and several officials, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, have made public statements calling Floyd's death murder and indicating that they believe Chauvin is guilty. 

The filing also points to statements made by Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, Commissioner of Public Safety John Harrington, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Gov. Tim Walz, President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as a song by Jon Bon Jovi, about the case.

"For more than a month, the press, popular figures, high ranking politicians, and the attorney leading this prosecution ... have all rendered their verdicts in this case publicly and on the most public stages possible," the filing states. "And they have all deemed the Defendant guilty.

"On the other hand, one would be hard pressed to locate any pretrial publicity referring extensively to Mr. Chauvin's innocence until proven guilty or that his alleged actions were justifiable," the filing adds.

4 former MPD officers charged in Floyd's death appear in court, judge hopes to limit pre-trial publicity

The filing requests the gag order be vacated for Chauvin's case, or vacated until Chauvin is given an opportunity for a hearing on the matter.

Thao's filing states that the court "must weigh all 'all reasonable alternatives' to a gag order at this point in this case including a change of venue." The filing added that comments made by attorneys and officials about the trial have threatened to prejudice Thao's right to a fair trial.

Lane's filing added, "Nothing defense counsel filed or said warrants this Court to issue a Gag Order."

Kueng's filing stated, "This limitation is a partial closing which deprives Mr. Kueng of his right to a fair and open hearing. The inaccurate media reporting caused by those restrictions imperil any chance at a fair trial."

Chauvin is charged with unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death.

Thao, Lane and Kueng are charged with aiding and abetting unintentional second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.


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