“Justice” should be more than a pop-culture buzzword. It should be our goal as a society. George Floyd deserves justice. So does Derek Chauvin. The great ancient Greek Philosopher Plato said, “The worst form of injustice is pretended justice.”
For both men, true justice, in this case, comes in the form of a legitimate, impartial trial. I’m not convinced that Chauvin got one… and I’m not alone. But, what I think is irrelevant. Let’s look at the evidence and determine that. And then, let’s consider the options Chauvin has for his convictions to be overturned and the likelihood that he be granted a new trial. A trial that I’m already dubbing “Derek Chauvin vs. the World: Part Two.”
Justice vs. Injustice
Before we delve into the facts, case law, and new revelations, the first important thing that we all need to consider is “what if we were Chauvin.” Not specifically as in “What if we kneeled on a black man’s neck and he died while in our custody.” But as in, “If I was on trial for anything, would I want my jury to be overtly partial prior to the first argument of the case being heard?” We all know the answer. It would be “clearly not.”
We have got to stop ignoring reality in order to vilify someone who is hated. We can’t get rid of “one” for the “betterment” of the many, because we all are “one.” That’s step one in seeking justice.
Also, we have to remember that this case is only about Derek Chauvin and George Floyd. This case isn’t meant to be a “catch-all” for other “missed” opportunities to convict police officers of crimes. Nor does it serve to bring back anyone whose life has been lost. Bringing those considerations into this trial is only detrimental to real justice.
Martin Luther King Jr. was quoted as saying, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Americans, regardless of which side of this issue they land, should want true justice; not street justice or a verdict that serves to ease community frustrations or nationwide tension. People shouldn’t want this for Chauvin’s sake, but for their own.
As SOFREP covered, former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three charges (Murder 2nd Degree, Murder 3rd Degree, Manslaughter 2nd Degree) levied against him following the death of George Floyd.
Motion for a New Trial
In a document dated May 4, 2021, Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, officially filed a motion in an attempt to secure Chauvin a new trial. Some of the reasons Nelson included were the failure to provide a change of venue for the hearing; that the Court abused its discretion on the grounds that “publicity during the proceedings threaten[ed] the fairness of the trial;” and that the Court “abused its authority when it failed to sequester the jury for the duration of the trial.” These are three of the 10 reasons Nelson listed in the motion for a new trial.
Nelson also named previous court cases as examples of case law supporting his motion. One of those cases was a Cleveland, Ohio murder case against Dr. Sam Sheppard.
An article in the Encyclopedia of Cleveland history says the following about the Sheppard case:
“Dr. Samuel Sheppard’s 1954 conviction for the murder of his wife was set aside by the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds that the defendant was not sufficiently insulated from the excessive publicity surrounding the case, and thus was denied a fair trial in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. This decision helped define what protections from adverse media coverage were necessary under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.”
Alan Dershowitz Weighs In
During an interview with Newsmax in April 2021, Alan Dershowitz (former criminal defense attorney and now legal analyst) said the following:
“Remember the case of Sam Sheppard? That was a very famous case F. Lee Bailey did. It became a television series, and in that case, the Supreme Court reversed the conviction based on outside pressures… convictions have been reversed, not because of what happened inside the courtroom, but because what happened outside the courtroom seeped into the jury box and that’s not acceptable under the rule of law.”
Dershowitz continued, “Their threats and intimidation and hanging the Sword of Damocles over the jury and basically saying, ‘If you don’t convict on the murder charge and all the charges, the cities will burn, the country will be destroyed,’ seeped into the jury room because the judge made a terrible mistake by not sequestering the jury.”
Dershowitz said, “So the judge himself said this case may be reversed on appeal. And I think it might be reversed on appeal. I think it should be reversed on appeal.” He added, “I think the American Civil Liberties Union, which would be all over this case if it weren’t a racially charged case, all Americans who care about due process and liberty should be concerned that the jury verdict may have been influenced by, if not the thumb, maybe even the elbow of the outside pressures, the fears, the threats.”
Sound familiar? In the Sheppard case, his murder conviction was overturned, he was given a new trial, and was then acquitted of murder for reasons similar to the ones we saw named in the Chauvin motion.
Separation of Powers
The American court system was never meant to play out in a public arena. The separation of powers exists in our Constitution for a reason. People serving in the legislative branch shouldn’t make public comments about an active case examined by the judicial branch. Furthermore, the head of the executive branch — the president — shouldn’t comment about an ongoing case, regardless of whether the jury had been sequestered for deliberation or not.
At the very least, Representative Maxine Waters stoked racial flames in an already contentious trial and President Biden set the stage for protests if the jury didn’t make what he called “the right decision.” Neither of those input channels has any place in our judicial system.
Jurors were never meant to be forced to choose between the just verdict and their personal safety. For the Chauvin case, though, the full weight of blame for these issues lies on presiding Judge Peter Cahill.
Chauvin’s Reasons for Motion
A “change of venue” or the sequestering of the jury is meant for cases like this. Cases in which jurors have stated that each day upon arriving at and leaving the courthouse they saw protests, both about the George Floyd case and about another police-involved shooting. Jurors should never be placed in that situation.
Furthermore, it seems now as though at least one juror in the Chauvin trial was dishonest on his jury selection forms, essentially subverting the proper administration of justice. Much like a spy may intentionally work himself or herself into the inner workings of a company/government/etc., citizens who lie on the jury selection forms are in effect surreptitiously trying to subvert a court proceeding. We should consider this a premier threat to our democracy.
For years it has been alleged that countries such as Russia, China and North Korea have “trials,” for the cause of public spectacle, in which the verdict is predetermined and the “trial” is just for show.
If we have juries comprised of citizens whose minds are already made up as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant, then how are we any different than the countries listed above?
For the sake of imparting a bit of sanity into this case, let’s consider this: A white male juror (sitting on a case in which a police officer is the defendant) lies upfront about his admiration for police officers and fails to disclose that his dad and uncle are both retired officers who went through a similar situation while they were on the job. That juror votes that the police officer in the case is innocent (regardless of evidence presented) and ultimately the police officer is released from custody and no additional case is pursued.
Then, the media finds out that this juror has a connection to a 2020 Trump rally and was photographed wearing a MAGA hat and a “Thin Blue Line” T-shirt. Every organization with an acronym for a name would be investigating whether this juror lied or not and when, not if, criminal charges would be filed.
Attorneys, politicians and lobbyists alike would be scurrying in the background of it all to either overturn the jury’s findings in appeal or to bring the charges to trial once again. And everyone knows this is true. But why?
What’s the Difference?
Regarding this case, how is what juror Brandon Mitchell (shown on the right) did any different?
Brandon Mitchell attended a protest in 2020 wearing a “BLM” (Black Lives Matter) shirt that reads “GET YOUR KNEE OFF OUR NECKS.” Since jurors are supposed to be completely impartial (at least to the best of their ability), the fact Mitchell was wearing a shirt that speaks to the literal heart of the issue in the Chauvin trial is troubling at best.
How much to the heart of the Chauvin trial you may ask?
The phrase wasn’t used as a mantra at all prior to the Chauvin/Floyd interaction. That’s pretty compelling evidence that it refers specifically to the Chauvin trial. It would be bad enough if his shirt said “ACAB” (All Cops Are Bad) or just “Black Lives Matter,” but the fact that alludes to Chauvin’s trial should be a devastating blow to the prosecution’s case.
The question I’ve heard raised is, “Did Mitchell do anything wrong simply by participating in his constitutionally protected right to peacefully protest?” The answer to that specific question is “Absolutely not.” Mitchell, and anyone else who wishes to, can peacefully protest for whichever cause they choose. Mitchell, however, became a juror on this decade’s OJ Simpson-level case; and he did so in what could amount to a less-than-honest way.
Jurors in the selection process for the Chauvin trial were asked to answer the following question:
“Did you, or someone close to you, participate in any of the demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death?”
“Other than what you have already described above, have you, or anyone close to you, participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality?”
To the above questions, Mitchell reportedly replied, “No.”
This new revelation, coupled with Mitchell’s negative response should be damning enough evidence for the lack of a fair trial. It is for me. But perhaps not for the reason you think. I think the evidence is damning because if Mitchell lied on that question, did any of the other jurors lie in the same way?
If Mitchell was incapable of telling the truth on that question, should we believe he is honest otherwise? Should we take him at his word that he can be impartial even though we have evidence he lied to get onto the jury? The truth is that Mitchell lied and was caught. And that should put every notion that Chauvin received a fair trial to rest.
Political Court Systems
When in America did justice become overtly political? Lady Justice, the literal symbol of equity in our courtrooms, wears a blindfold to symbolize fair and equal administration of the law, without corruption, favor, greed, or prejudice. She holds two scales that weigh the evidence based on their own merit. In her right hand, she holds a sword to symbolize the swift application of punishment. She is trampling on a serpent underfoot, which symbolizes evil and lies. Finally, she stands on a book that represents the U.S. Constitution, from where her ideals are derived. Ideals that make clear that, regardless of race, wealth, or other identifying factors, everyone who enters a courtroom in America should receive a fair trial.
Dershowitz told Newsmax, “I have no real confidence that this verdict, which may be correct in some ways, but I have no confidence that this verdict was produced by due process and the rule of law rather than the influence of the crowd.”
Lady Justice was slapped in the face during this trial.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
America, we are at a “T” in the road. Our next turn could prove to ultimately strengthen our great nation or totally unravel our democracy. And We the People get to decide which direction the road goes from here. Let’s choose wisely.