Retired judge says watch the trial of Derek Chauvin 'like a juror would'

Kirsten Swanson
Updated: March 07, 2021 10:23 PM
Created: March 07, 2021 08:28 AM

With all eyes turning toward Minneapolis for the highly-anticipated trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, the public will have an opportunity to have a front-row seat to the proceedings without leaving home.

Due in part to the pandemic and the heightened public interest, the trial will be broadcast. 

It is rare to allow cameras in Minnesota criminal court proceedings. But retired Hennepin County Judge Kevin Burke said this is a chance for the general public to watch what happens in real-time.

"If I were going to watch this as one of your viewers, I would say I'm going to try to watch this -- if I have the time -- like a juror," Burke said. "The fact that it's televised gives you an opportunity to make an evaluation of how this case goes about."

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Burke, who spent more than 35 years on the bench and twice served as Hennepin County's chief judge, said viewers should pay close attention to the opening statements to get a sense of how each side plans to present its case.

He also suggests reviewing the jury instructions given before and at the conclusion of the testimony.

"In some respects, the trial is not particularly complicated," Burke said. "The facts in this case and the kind of testimony I think will be riveting for those jurors," Burke said.

Having a front-row seat, albeit virtually to the trial, gives people the opportunity to see the evidence and watch witness testimony for themselves, Burke said.

"The more the public understands what the jury saw, what the issues were for the jury, the more likely it is they will accept whatever jury verdict comes out," he said.

Jury selection is slated to begin Monday at 9 a.m.

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