Updated: March 02, 2021 06:09 PM
Created: March 02, 2021 10:16 AM
Attorneys for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin are asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to dismiss an appeal regarding a third-degree murder charge following an announcement by the state's highest court in the case of another former police officer.
Monday, the Minnesota Supreme Court announced it will review the third-degree murder conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor. Oral arguments in the case will begin in June 2021.
Following that announcement, Chauvin's attorneys asked the Court of Appeals to dismiss the state's motion to add a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin given the fact that the high court is planning to review whether third-degree murder even applies to the actions of Noor.
"[Chauvin's attorneys'] theory is that because the Supreme Court is going to hear the Noor appeal, until the Supreme Court reaches a decision in the case, Noor can't have any impact on the Chauvin trial," Rachel Moran, a University of St. Thomas Law Professor, said.
Moran says the Supreme Court won't hear the Noor case immediately.
"They wouldn't have arguments until June, which means they won't have a decision until sometime over probably late summer. So it's very unhelpful from a timing standpoint," she said.
Chauvin's attorneys argue that what constitutes third-degree murder is no longer "clear and obvious" so the state can't prove that the district court's decision to not allow a third-degree murder charge to be added against Chauvin was an "unequivocal error."
"To be at this point and have crucial law unsettled as to one of the key changes, that's very unusual," University of St. Thomas Law Professor Mark Osler said.
Osler added if the Court of Appeals says prosecutors can add third-degree murder charges, the Hennepin County judge has the option to possibly delay Chauvin's trial to await the Supreme Court's interpretation of third-degree murder or decide to start the trial on Monday, March 8.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Chauvin's trial was still scheduled to begin on Monday, March 8.
Earlier Monday, attorneys for Chauvin and the state each presented their case to the Court of Appeals over why third-degree murder should or should not be added against Chauvin.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.
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