By Jonathan Allen*
Minneapolis: The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd has been delayed for at least a day as the judge contends with a last-minute order by a higher court to reconsider adding an additional murder charge.
The trial had been scheduled to begin on Monday local time (Tuesday AEDT), with the screening of jurors to weigh murder and manslaughter charges in a case seen as a referendum on police violence against black Americans. Chauvin appeared in court dressed in a navy blue suit and tie, a white shirt and a black face mask, jotting notes in a yellow legal pad on the table before him.
Members of the National Guard stand outside the courtroom where Derek Chauvin is set to be tried over the death of George Floyd.
Members of the National Guard stand outside the courtroom where Derek Chauvin is set to be tried over the death of George
Judge Peter Cahill of the Hennepin County district court set aside three weeks for jury selection alone, mindful of the difficulties finding impartial Minneapolitans in a case that has convulsed a nation and in which an image of the victim – a selfie of Floyd faintly smiling – has become an international icon of racial justice.
But that was delayed by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which ordered Cahill to reconsider prosecutors’ request to also reinstate a third charge, third-degree murder, over the defendant’s objections.
Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lead lawyer, told the court on Monday morning that Chauvin would soon ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to overturn Friday’s order, a process that could take weeks. Prosecutors from the Minnesota attorney-general’s office urged the court to delay jury selection until that issue was resolved.