Eric Nelson, the lawyer for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, filed a motion on Tuesday asking for a new trial on several grounds, including jury misconduct, reports the New York Times. Nelson said that his client did not receive a fair trial for several reasons, including the judge’s decisions to not sequester the jury during the trial, to not change the location of the proceedings and to not grant a new trial because of publicity that included the intimidation of the defense’s expert witnesses. Nelson also wrote “that the jury committed misconduct, felt threatened or intimidated, felt race-based pressure during the proceedings, and/or failed to adhere to instructions during deliberations.”
The motion was filed as one of the jurors came under scrutiny for a photo from last year that showed him attending the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington, commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Before the trial, all potential jurors were required to fill out a questionnaire that asked whether they or anyone close to them had “participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality.” Judge Peter A. Cahill, who oversaw the Chauvin trial, could convene a hearing to question Mitchell and probe whether he lied on his questionnaire. But even if Judge Cahill determined that Mitchell intentionally misled the court on his questionnaire, that alone likely would not be enough to throw out the verdict, legal experts said. Jurors are allowed to have opinions, legal experts said, but they have to be willing to set them aside and agree to decide a case based on the evidence. Experts also said that given the evidence in Chauvin’s case, a court would be hard-pressed to throw out the jury’s decision.