How the Chauvin Prosecutor Presented the “Almost Perfect Case”


On the final day of discussions on the murder of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin due to George Floyd’s death, prosecutors asked the jury for another “witness” after hearing from 45 witnesses over a three-week period. He said it needed to be considered. :common sense.

“It’s not really that complicated,” prosecutor Jerry Blackwell hinted at Chauvin’s video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. “It’s so easy that the kid could understand it. In fact, the kid— 9 year old girl One of the bystanders at the scene on May 25, 2020, who testified at the trial, understood it. “

“You can believe in your eyes,” Blackwell said. “That was what you thought. It was what you saw.”

Blackwell’s closing remarks summarized much of what legal experts said had led to a great success in the prosecution’s proceedings. Convincing witnesses, seamless presentations, and enough video emphasis to understand the simple point that Chauvin accurately demonstrated his actions.The jury deliberated about 11 hours ago Chauvin convicted Of all three counts against him, including two and three murders.

Prosecutors Steve Schleicher, Derek Chauvin, and Defense Attorney Eric Nelson during the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 19, 2021.

From left: Chauvin’s prosecutors Steve Schleicher, Derek Chauvin, and defense counsel Eric Nelson. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; Photo: Court TV via Reuters Video)

A law professor told Yahoo News that the prosecution’s achievements during the trial would serve as a master class on how to tackle a case of this magnitude.

“They tried a near-perfect proceeding,” Joseph Daily, a former law professor at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, told Yahoo News that the trial team’s use of visuals and witness testimony He added that it was a clever “fusion of modern technology.” In court. “

According to Daily, state expert witnesses, especially Dr. Martin Tobin, a pulmonologist who explained the effects of Chauvin’s detention on Floyd’s breathing, provided complex information in a way that the jury could easily digest. It is said that he told.

“Dr. Tobin was probably the best medical witness I’ve ever seen in court,” said Daily. “He had bedside manners. He was a jury, I’m positive, but anyone who heard him inspired trust. And the prosecution used him perfectly.”

In this image from the video, Dr. Martin Tobin was at the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Thursday, April 15, 2021 by Hennepin County Judge Peter Carhill. I testify that I preside over in court.  He was charged with the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.  (Court TV via AP, pool)

Dr. Martin Tobin testifies at trial on April 15 (Court TV via AP, Poole)

Justin Hansford, a law professor at Howard University, said the state seemed to have an advantage at the beginning of the proceedings, as many have already blamed Chauvin’s actions, but if the prosecutor’s skills are low, He said the outcome of the trial could be different. Director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center. The state’s 13-member team was headed by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, appointed by Governor Tim Walz, and included a former prosecutor with decades of experience.

Hansford believes that the decision to build such a strong team stemmed from pressure to secure Chauvin’s conviction and avoid the potential for national uproar that would likely follow acquittal. I am.

“We have never protested [that] Hansford told Yahoo News about what happened last summer. “And I think there was a fear that the following things might happen up to the White House. [Chauvin was acquitted].. In that context, there was a lot of investment in the prosecution case. They had more than 40 witnesses, far outperforming their defenses. [which had seven].. I spared no expense. “

At the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, defense lawyer Eric Nelson was sitting beside former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in two murders, three murders, and two manslaughter trials. Attorney Jerry W. Blackwell made the opening remarks. Sketch from a video feed of the minutes of this court, March 29, 2021, USA.Reuters / Jane Rosenberg

A court sketch of prosecutor Jerry Blackwell making the opening statement on March 29. Attorneys Nelson and Chauvin are on the right. (Jane Rosenberg / Reuters)

Then there was a jury. Both the prosecution and the defense team settled on a panel that appeared to have juries of different races, genders, and ages. Demographics Of Minneapolis itself. James E. Coleman, Jr., a law professor at Duke University, said that diversity made a difference in how the jury perceived bystanders and how much room they were trying to give Chauvin. He said there was a possibility.

“There were people who sympathized with George Floyd,” the jury told Yahoo News. “Perhaps those who would have demanded that the defense actually deal with the facts. [Whereas] In suburban jurisdictions, there were pure white juries who tended to rule in favor of police officers because almost everything they did was rational given the nature of their work. There is a possibility. “

For Baltimore’s 34-year police veteran and former director of the Law Enforcement Partnership, Neil Franklin Public security non-profit organizationA video of Chauvin fixing his knees to Floyd’s neck helped show why police action was a crime.

“We had so much video evidence, [and] It’s not just from one point of view, “he told Yahoo News. “Nearly 9 minutes video from one of the sidewalk witnesses [surveillance] Camera on the other side of the street [and] Body camera footage from several different police officers. “

But abundant video footage wasn’t enough, Coleman said. The state needed to be strategic about how it would be presented to the jury.

“One concern with video is to exaggerate it,” says Coleman. “And if you overshow the video, it can have the effect of paralyzing the jury on what they’re seeing. I think it happened in Rodney King’s case, for example. When they were first tried in the white suburbs of Los Angeles, they played a videotape of these cops beating Rodney King many times frame by frame, and the emotional feeling of watching it at full speed. Suddenly you were looking at each frame, and they were trying to explain what was happening in each frame. “

Derek Chauvin listens to the verdict. And George Floyd.  (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; Photo: Court TV via Reuters video, via Facebook)

Derek Chauvin listens to the verdict. George Floyd. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; Photo: Court TV via Reuters video, via Facebook)

According to Coleman, Chauvin’s defense team, led by lawyer Eric Nelson, has tried a similar strategy to insist that the entire case should not be judged from video fragments.

Defense appeared to be weakened in the same area where the state prospered, but some experts told Yahoo News that Nelson had too much to overcome.

“He was defending perhaps the most hated man in the United States last year,” Daily, who once taught Nelson at law school, told Yahoo News. It looked very cold.Such [Chauvin] When they saw this, they caused almost hatred in people. “

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin told the judge that he had waived his right to testify to the jury on the 14th day of the trial for second- and third-class murders and manslaughter due to George's death. It was. In this court sketch, Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minneapolis, USA, on April 15, 2021.Reuters / Jane Rosenberg

Chauvin’s court sketch on April 15th. Tell the judge that he has waived his right to testify. (Jane Rosenberg / Reuters)

However, not all legal experts thought the state case was a slam dunk. David Schultz, a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and a professor at Hamline University, found himself overwhelmed by the final arguments of both sides.

According to Schultz, good closing words shape the story. “that is [taking] Weave together all the facts the jury has heard into a short story of 30 to 60 minutes of painting. I don’t think the prosecution or the defense really talked strongly. “

It is not yet known how much the case will affect Chauvin’s beliefs, but the resonance of Floyd’s death and the severity of the accusations made for the extraordinary trial.

“It’s hard to say,” Hansford said of what the ultimate legacy of the case would be. “It’s so easy for lawyers to say,’This isn’t Chauvin’s case.'” All lawyers will say, “This isn’t.” “

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