By Liz Collin
Derek Chauvin’s new legal team has filed a petition asking the nation’s highest court to hear his case. The official U.S. Supreme Court filing comes after the Minnesota Supreme Court declined to hear the case in July.
The 47-page petition points to a heavily fortified Hennepin County Courthouse during Chauvin’s trial, violent threats, jury intimidation, and a local press that “glorified Mr. Floyd” as reasons the country’s top court should grant him a new trial.
A jury found Chauvin guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in April 2021 for the death of George Floyd in May 2020.
He is currently serving a more than 22-year prison sentence at a federal prison in Tucson, Ariz.
Chauvin’s attorney, William Mohrman, acknowledged the long road ahead as the U.S. Supreme Court only hears about 100 appeals of the 7,000 cases it’s asked to review each year.
In a statement to Alpha News, Mohrman said the case is being watched closely across the country.
“Specifically, we argued the Minnesota Courts violated Mr. Chauvin’s right to a fair trial under the Sixth Amendment by refusing to transfer his trial to a location in Minnesota which was not affected by the George Floyd riots … If the jurors acquitted Mr. Chauvin, they would have been bracing for a resumption of riots in their own community and possible threats to their own personal safety — which virtually all the jurors expressed when questioned by the attorneys prior to trial,” Mohrman said.
“Supreme Court precedent provides that such cases should presumptively be transferred without any finding of actual juror bias — in the other words, the bias is presumed. Finally, the Sixth Amendment issue is now of nationwide significance as police departments are either losing officers or are unable to recruit new officers because of those officers’ fears that they could become caught up in a criminal trial in front of a jury which would likewise be reluctant to fairly decide the case because of the threat of riots in the event of an acquittal,” he added.
As the petition argues, “government officials presumed that community passions were so inflamed that rioters may invade the courthouse itself during the trial.”
“As a result, the courthouse was surrounded by barbed wire and concrete block and protected by the National Guard troops and two armored personnel carriers,” it says.
Jurors were “not sequestered until after closing arguments” and they “were exposed to this protection every day as they came to the courthouse from March 8th through the April 20th verdict,” the petition states.
The filing also describes the fear jurors experienced.
“One juror testified of being ‘terrified’ to serve and another stated that ‘I do [have concerns for my personal safety] for afterwards because I know [my identity] would be public information, and it really depends on how the trial — end results.’”
Chauvin’s defense attorney for his state trial reported that his office “received over a thousand negative or threatening emails alone,” the petition states.
Still, the trial court denied a change of venue request.
The petition also takes note of Juror 52, who has since publicly identified himself as Brandon Mitchell.
“Juror 52’s responses were false. Chauvin’s trial counsel learned that Juror 52 had participated in a Washington, D.C. ‘Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off our Necks’ in August 2020 which arose from the death of Mr. Floyd and that a photo of Juror 52 at the march showed Juror 52 attended the march and wore a ‘Get Your Knee Off Our Necks BLM’ t-shirt and a ‘Black Lives Matter’ baseball cap,” the petition states.
Chauvin spoke exclusively to Alpha News for its upcoming documentary “The Fall of Minneapolis,” which will premiere on Nov. 16.
This article originally appeared at Alpha News and was reprinted with permission.