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Officer convicted of killing George Floyd appeals conviction to Supreme Court

 May 20, 2023

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has filed an appeal against his conviction for the murder of George Floyd. 

Chauvin's legal team argues that the trial's location, near the scene of Floyd's death, deprived him of a fair trial, Daily Mail reported. 

Chauvin was found guilty in April 2021 for Floyd's death in May 2020. The incident involved Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck during an arrest, despite Floyd's repeated pleas that he could not breathe. Following his conviction, Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison in June 2021. Since then, he has been incarcerated in Arizona.

Chauvin Claims Unfair Trial

 Chauvin’s lawyer, William Mohrman, filed a petition Wednesday, asking the state's Supreme Court to review the case, asserting that he was not granted a fair trial. This move comes a month after the Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected his appeal.

Mohrman contended that the conviction was unjust for several reasons, including the extensive pretrial publicity and the strong sentiment of sympathy towards Floyd in Minneapolis.

Previous Appeals and Sentencing

It's worth noting that this petition comes after the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld Chauvin's second-degree murder conviction last month, ensuring that his 22.5-year sentence would remain in place, NewYork Post reported.

Mohrman had previously presented an unsuccessful appeal to this court, stating multiple reasons, including the considerable pretrial publicity, for the appeal to overturn the conviction of the former officer.

However, a three-judge panel last month sided with prosecutors, stating that Chauvin received a fair trial and appropriate sentence. Chauvin's latest appeal reiterates several of these arguments.

The Incident and Its Impact

George Floyd, a Black man, tragically lost his life on May 25, 2020, when Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee onto Floyd's neck for approximately 9.5 minutes, ignoring Floyd's pleas of breathlessness.

This event caused a surge of nationwide protests, sometimes escalating into violent demonstrations, and stirred a country-wide introspection on police brutality and racial discrimination.

Hopeful for Supreme Court Review

"We're very hopeful that the Minnesota Supreme Court will accept review of the case," Mohrman said. The Minnesota Supreme Court could agree to hear Chauvin's appeal, in which case it would request detailed briefs from each side and later set a date for oral arguments.

Alternatively, the court has the option to reject the case. In such an instance, the ruling of the Court of Appeals would remain intact. According to Mohrman's petition, the case poses critical queries to the state Supreme Court. These questions concern "developing and clarifying due process requirements to transfer venue when there is unprecedented pervasive pretrial publicity coupled with community violence."

Issues Regarding Juror Misconduct

Mohrman also noted that the case raises issues about rules regarding juror misconduct. One juror participated in a civil rights event commemorating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington, D.C., a few months after Floyd's death. This information was only disclosed after the trial.

The Court of Appeals declined to return the case to the trial judge for a hearing on whether the juror's nondisclosure constituted misconduct.

Chauvin's Separate Federal Civil Rights Charge

Chauvin also pleaded guilty to a separate federal civil rights charge and was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison. He is currently serving this sentence in Arizona concurrently with his state sentence.

"Police officers undoubtedly have a challenging, difficult, and sometimes dangerous job. However, no one is above the law," Judge Peter Reyes wrote for the Court of Appeals last month. "When they commit a crime, they must be held accountable just as those individuals that they lawfully apprehend."

"The law only permits police officers to use reasonable force when effecting a lawful arrest. Chauvin crossed that line here when he used unreasonable force on Floyd."