Despite a $27 million civil settlement between the city of Minneapolis and the family of George Floyd, the judge in the high-profile trial of ex-Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin said that the trial will continue as scheduled.
“Unfortunately, the pretrial publicity will continue no matter how long we continue [the trial],” Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill said Friday.
Chauvin is accused of killing Floyd during an arrest last May, which sparked nationwide rioting over perceived police brutality against the black community.
His lawyer, Eric Nelson, made a motion before the court Monday to pause the trial, which is in the jury selection phase, while press from the civil settlement blows over. He also made a second motion to move the trial to another county. Both were rejected by Cahill Friday.
Cahill did dismiss two of the nine jurors seated before the settlement, whom he decided could not remain impartial after hearing news of the settlement. He also acknowledged that the settlement was at least somewhat prejudicial.
“I’ll be very honest, when it was first brought up by the defense I thought they were overstating it,” Cahill said. “I was a little shocked when we called back the seven of the nine jurors that had been seated and two of them basically said they could not be fair and impartial any longer.”
Cahill, who denied a motion to move the trial to another venue in November, denied the renewed motion too, citing the same reason he denied the first change of venue motion. He said that press coverage of the trial has saturated the entire state of Minnesota.
“I don’t think there’s any place in the state of Minnesota that has not been subjected to extreme amounts of publicity in this case,” he said. “With that, we’ll continue with jury selection in this case and in this county.”
News of the settlement was exacerbated by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and City Attorney Jim Rowader, who held a press conference Thursday explaining the city’s decision to make the settlement during Chauvin’s trial.
Cahill was miffed by that decision, and made his position clear before adjourning on Thursday afternoon.
“I’ve asked Minneapolis to stop talking about it. They keep talking about it. We keep talking about it,” he said. “Everybody just stop talking about it. Let me decide what the ramifications are. Are we clear on this? We’re adjourned for the day.”
Jury selection continues Friday, and opening arguments are slated for March 29.
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