Minneapolis: Derek Chauvin’s Attorney Asks for Change of Venue after George Floyd’s Family Paid $27 Million


Yesterday, Derek Chauvin’s attorney asked Judge Peter A. Cahill for a continuance of Chauvin’s trial and a change of venue after it was announced that George Floyd’s family would receive $27 million from the Minneapolis City Council. 

Eric Nelson, defence attorney of Derek Chauvin, said that he was “gravely concerned” following Minneapolis City Council’s announcement that George Floyd’s family would be paid $27 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit. Mr Nelson argued that the announcement came under “suspicious timing” and could prove “highly prejudicial” against his client Derek Chauvin, 44, who faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the wake of Mr Floyd’s death last summer. 

On Saturday, it was announced that Minneapolis City Council had settled a federal lawsuit with George Floyd’s family, resulting in the highest payout related to a wrongful death lawsuit in Minneapolis’s history. As part of the settlement, $500,000 will be invested into the neighbourhood where Floyd was killed, with the Floyd family attorney, Chris Stewart, stating:

“The number today changes evaluations and civil rights for a Black person when they die because what you don't know is the rigged game that we always have to play when we take one of these cases. African Americans are not valued high when they are murdered by law enforcement in these cases and we are changing that precedent.”

In the wake of the news, attorney Eric Nelson asked Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter A. Cahill to “at least” call back the jurors, calling the announcement “perplexing” due to “the fact that [it] came in the exact middle of jury selection.” Chauvin’s attorney went on to criticise members of the Minneapolis City Council and particularly Mayor Jacob Frey, suggesting that the city had intended to sway public opinion. Nelson slammed Frey, a civil rights lawyer, saying, “He should have known better” and went on to mention that council member Jeremiah Ellison is the son of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is handling the case against Chauvin.

In response to the defence, Judge Cahill agreed that it was “unfortunate” of the announcements presence “all over the media when we’re in the midst of jury selection,” labelling the potential effects of the announcement as a “legitimate concern.” Judge Cahill then granted the motion allowing the recall of the jury, which will allow the screening of the jurors to see if anything “change[d] their minds about whether they can be fair and impartial.” 

Judge Cahill reflected on the city council’s actions, stating that he wished “city officials would stop talking about this case so much.”

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