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The attorney representing former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin has filed an appeal to the state of Minnesota to void the verdict of Chauvin’s controversial 2021 trial. William Mohrman, Chauvin’s lawyer argues that he was not given a fair trial due to legal and procedural errors and is seeking a retrial.

Before a panel of three judges in St. Paul Mohrman laid out his case that Judge Peter Cahill should have moved the case out of Minneapolis due to the unprecedented security measures that had to be taken due to fear of violent protestors and extensive pretrial publicity, according to the Associated Press.

“The primary issue on this appeal is whether a criminal defendant can get a fair trial consistent with constitutional requirements in a courthouse surrounded by concrete block, barbed wire, two armored personnel carriers, and a squad of National Guard troops, all of which or whom are there for one purpose: in the event that the jury acquits the defendant,” Mohrman said according to AP.


In his extensive brief, Mohrman argues the many factors that prejudiced Chauvin’s chance of a fair trial included:

  • “the pretrial publicity was more extensive than any other trial in Minnesota history;”
  • “the judge should have moved the trial and sequestered the jury;”
  • “the publicity and the riots;”
  • “the city’s $27 million settlement with Floyd’s family announced during jury selection;”
  • “the unrest over a police killing in a Minneapolis suburb during jury selection;”
  • “the sealing off of the courthouse.”

Neal Katyal, a special attorney for the state and former acting U.S. Solicitor General claimed “the evidence of Chauvin’s guilt was captured on video for the world to see.” according to Timcast News. He added that Chauvin’s trial was “one of the most transparent and thorough … in our nation’s history,” as reported by NPR telling the court that Chauvin’s claims “do not come close” to justifying a reversal of the verdict.

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Other questions in the appeal address if it was legally permissible to convict Chauvin of murder in the third degree and if Judge Cahill’s sentence of 22 1/2 years, well beyond the recommended 12 1/2 years, was justified. Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, according to NBC News. He plead guilty to a federal civil rights charge carrying a 21-year sentence.

Minnesota Appeals Judge Peter Reyes said Wednesday that the court would rule in 90 days, putting the anticipated decision in mid-May. Should Chauvin succeed on appeal, he could qualify for parole on his state sentence, but his federal sentence would still be in effect, according to NBC News.

Chauvin is currently serving his federal sentence concurrent with his state sentence at a federal prison in Arizona.
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