Tentative 2-week jury selection, 4-week trial format for George Floyd case
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George Floyd’s family and the attorney representing them held a news conference Friday afternoon.
The news conference followed a hearing for the four former Minneapolis police officers charged in Floyd’s death.
View the news conference via the video player below:
George Floyd’s family and attorneys are expected to speak just before 1 p.m., following the hearing Friday.
After court adjourned Friday afternoon, KSTP’s Eric Chaloux captured video of a few of the former officers leaving the hearing.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison also spoke after the hearing.
Court has now adjourned following discussion on jury selection and trial format.
According to KSTP’s Callan Gray, jury selection will be one by one, on the witness stand. The judge said he anticipates the jurors will complete questionnaires ahead of time.
COVID-19 restrictions are expected to be in place during the trial, and there will be overflow rooms for family and press.
There is expected to be a two-week jury selection and a four-week trial.
Admin items from Judge Cahill-— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
-jury selection going to be 1 by 1, on the witness stand. Anticipates will do questionnaires ahead of time
– Expect COVID restrictions will be in place for trial, will have overflow rooms for family and press
-Expect 2 wk jury selection, 4 wk trial
Meanwhile, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank presented an argument for an upward sentence departure, stating George Floyd was particularly vulnerable because he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground, KSTP’s Callan Gray reports.
Judge Cahill questions whether that qualifies as vulnerable since it happened during the course of the encounter.— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
The motion to introduce additional evidence is now under discussion.
KSTP’s Callan Gray reports documents covering two prior incidents—one at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) and another in Harris County, Texas—involving George Floyd have been brought forward for consideration.
Defense attorneys argued the HCMC incident, which took place in May 2019, reportedly shows similiarities to the current case. Attorney Earl Gray, who is representing former officer Thomas Lane, said "he did exactly the same thing."
The judge has denied the request to consider the Harris County incident, citing irrelevance to this case. He has has also denied the request to consider the HCMC incident, but it could come up at a later date.
Judge also denies May 6, 2019 incident as well but sounds like it could come up again at a later date.— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
Motion sought to use as evidence "The facts and circumstances of Mr. Floyd’s May 6, 2019 medical intervention at HCMC for ‘accidental drug ingestion’… and while under arrest was tearful – because he— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
was accused of selling drugs by the police and has been abusing opiates.."
Meanwhile, attorneys went back and forth with the judge on discovery, including what to disclose with each other.
Currently discussing discovery motions. Attorneys going back and forth with Judge about what to disclose to each other.— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
After a break, the discussion is now centered on a motion to disqualify the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office from prosecuting, or participating in the prosecution of, the case.
Attorney Eric Nelson, who is representing former officer Derek Chauvin, claims the attorney’s office violated attorney witness law and should be disqualified.
He is also arguing discovery documents, which reference officer training, indicate attorney’s office members provided training to the Minneapolis Police Department’s officers.
According to the court brief, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and several of the assistant attorneys "are potential witnesses due to their interviews of Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker, regarding his autopsy of George Floyd without having a non-attorney witness present."
As a result, the judge has decided Freeman and those assistant attorneys are off the case, KSTP’s Callan Gray reports. The judge has not disqualified other attorneys or staff members from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office from the case.
Judge decides those four attorneys are off the case, calling their actions to not have another person present "sloppy". But does not disqualify other attorneys or staff in HCAO from the case.— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
The next agenda item under discussion is whether to sequester the jury.
KSTP’s Callan Gray said the judge thinks, "it would be almost cruel to keep them on weeks at a time" and suggested they be "semi-sequestered."
That would involve jurors driving to court each day, being escorted by deputies from their vehicles and up a secure elevator, having lunch brought in to them, then having them escorted back to their vehicles at the end of the day.
He describes a scenario where jurors drive to court each day, are escorted by deputies from vehicles and up a secure elevator, lunch brought in, then escorted back to vehicles at the end of the day.— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
Additionally, the judge said he believes there will be "significant" attempts to influence the jury if it is not anonymous, KSTP’s Callan Gray reports.
The judge cites receiving a "barrage of calls" Thursday from members of the public giving him advice about this motion’s hearing.
Now discussing whether there should be an anonymous jury.— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
Judge believes there will be "significant" attempts to influence the jury if it is not anonymous, citing a "barrage of calls" he received yesterday from members of the public giving him advice about this motion’s hearing.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank there isn’t evidence at this point that jurors would be influenced and disagrees with the concept of an anonymous jury.
Assistant AG Frank says there is no evidence at this point that jurors will be influenced and disagrees with possibility of anonymous jury.— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
Meanwhile, Attorney Earl Gray, who is representing former officer Thomas Lane, said he is in favor of an anonymous jury, giving a personal example of the "many, many, many threats" he has received since he took on the case.
Gray, representing Lane, also wants an anonymous jury. Gray says since he took on this case he’s received "many, many, many threats"— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
Attorney Eric Nelson, who is representing former officer Derek Chauvin, said he is in favor of an anonymous jury.
Nelson, representing Chauvin, also calls for an anonymous jury.— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
He says that he has received close to 1,000 unsolicited emails since taking on this case and that lawyers who have the same name have "modified their business practices" because they’ve received so many calls
The latest agenda item during Friday’s hearing is discussion about a potential change of venue.
The judge said there is no deadline for this motion, KSTP’s Callan Gray reports.
Meanwhile the judge suggested sending a questionnaire to potential jurors to address pre-trial publicity.
This would include questions about what juror members have potentially seen or read related to the case as well as questions about whether that has prompted them to have "made up (their) mind(s)" about the case.
Now talking about potential change of venue. Judge says there is no deadline for this motion.— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
Judge suggests sending out a questionnaire to potential jurors addressing pre-trial publicity, including "what have you read or seen" & has that "made up your mind" about the case.
Attorneys representing the officers have objected to the questionnaire, calling it "inappropriate" to rely on as well as "ripe for problems."
Robert Paule, representing Thao, says about the questionnaire – "I think that’s ripe for problems"— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
In response, the judge said if information from Hennepin County jurors is obtained first, they can determine whether pre-trial publicity has influenced the pool. If it hasn’t, he says they don’t need to look elsewhere.
Judge asks legal teams to provide input on the questionnaire, if they can’t agree he says he will write it himself. He says they can have a admin conference later to discuss how to administer it but right now "the content of the questionnaire is more important"— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
Attorney Earl Gray, who is representing former officer Thomas Lane, is disagreeing with the state’s argument that jurors could be prejudiced if there are separate trials.
Gray said if former officer Derek Chauvin is tried first and acquitted, the other officers likely wouldn’t go to trial, KSTP’s Callan Gray reports.
The judge is taking the rejoinder motion under advisement.
Judge is taking the joinder motion under advisement.— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
One of the first hearing agenda items, according to KSTP reporter Callan Gray, is prosecutors arguing for a joint trial.
Prosecutors first argue for joint trial-— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020
– Charges and evidence are similar & say former officers acted together
– Witnesses & family members would be traumatized by multiple trials
– Separate trials would take longer, influence witness avail., put community through more trauma
The hearing is now underway at the Hennepin County Family Justice Center.
KSTP Reporter Eric Chaloux captured the arrival of George Floyd’s family ahead of the hearing.
Meanwhile, KSTP reporter Callan Gray captured arrival video of a couple of the officers involved in the hearing.
Protesters have gathered ahead of a motion hearing involving the former Minneapolis officers charged in George Floyd’s death.
Watch coverage of the gathering via the player below:
Friday, the four former officers charged in connection to the death of George Floyd will appear in court for a motion hearing.
During the hearing, both the prosecution and defense will argue a number of motions that have been put before the court.
According to the scheduling order for the hearing, attorneys for former officers Derek Chauvin, J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao will argue for a change of venue, a sequestered jury, an anonymous jury and the disqualification of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, among other items.
The prosecution is scheduled to argue for a joint trial for the four former officers and the potential for longer sentences.
The court will also discuss other items, such as jury selection, COVID-19 restrictions, overflow rooms for the media and observers and the trial length.
Defense requests to dismiss charges won’t be addressed at Friday’s hearing. A trial is scheduled for March.
Friday’s hearing will also mark the first time Chauvin is expected to appear in a courtroom. He is in state custody and has attended previous hearings via videoconference.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
At the Hennepin County Family Justice Center covering the Contest Omnibus Hearing in the #GeorgeFloyd case. A group of protestors is gathered across the street from where the former officers have been walking in. @KSTP pic.twitter.com/QWCadXksXZ— Callan Gray (@CallanGrayNews) September 11, 2020