MINNEAPOLIS — Derek Chauvin’s team of lawyers are asking for a change of venue and also a trial delay, due to the possible influence of news that a $25 million civil settlement was reached between the city and the Floyd estate, Post Millennial reported.
Said lawyer Eric Nelson before the presiding judge, “I am gravely concerned with the news that broke on Friday related to the civil settlement. The fact that this came in the exact middle of jury selection is perplexing to me, your honor.”
Nelson said the announcement “has incredible potential to taint the jury pool,” Star Tribune reported.
Moreover, Nelson noted that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s son, Jeremiah, sits on the City Council that unanimously approved the settlement, and questioned the timing, though he said he was not making accusations. Keith Ellison heads the prosecution team and often has been present in the courtroom.
Judge Cahill said he wishes city officials “would stop talking about this case so much,” but that he does not think there was “any evil intent on the timing.”
Nelson pushed back, saying, “We have a mayor who is a lawyer by trade. He should know better.”
In addition to his motion for continuance, Nelson also raised the possibility of renewing a previous motion for a change of venue for the trial. Cahill said he is taking both motions under advisement, KMSP reported.
During a break in jury selection, Keith Ellison stopped at Nelson’s table and said: “Is there anything else anyone would like to not accuse me of?” Nelson looked at Ellison but did not reply.
Chauvin is facing charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd while in MPD custody on May 25, 2020.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher admitted that the timing was awkward, but nonetheless, argued that the trial should continue as planned:
“All I can say to the court is there are some things the state of Minnesota and this prosecution team can control, and there are some things it cannot control.”
“We cannot control the civil aspect of the case, we cannot and do not control the Minneapolis City Council, and we certainly cannot and do not control the news cycle.”
Mayor Jacob Frey deferred questions about the timing of the settlement to City Attorney Jim Rowader, who declined to comment. Representatives for both said they were following the judge’s guidance to not comment on the criminal proceedings.