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Judge Slaps Attorneys and Defendants in George Floyd Case with Gag Order

Minneapolis, Police Officers, Former, Cops, George Floyd, Murder, Killing, Knee, Neck

Four former Minneapolis police officers and the attorneys defending them against charges in the alleged murder of George Floyd have been hit with gag orders in order to prevent the tainting of a potential jury pool, a judge ruled on Thursday.

Judge Peter A. Cahill said that the order came after the court was “made aware that two or more attorneys representing parties […] granted interviews or talked with the media” on Wednesday, “expounding on the merits of the case or commenting on other aspects of the case” following the filing of a motion to dismiss charges against Thomas Lane. Earl Gray represents Lane.

Gray did give an interview on Wednesday in which he discussed the case. Here’s what Gray said, according to the Star Tribune:

“It’s not a case where he’s standing by watching another cop pound on somebody’s head. This is a case where my client twice — twice — asked if we should turn him over and the answer from [Chauvin] was no.”

“I think the public should see it. That shows the whole picture. If they watch the whole thing, people … couldn’t cherry-pick parts of it.”

“I don’t think [the public] should be restricted from seeing [the body-camera footage] because the attorney general has come out and said my client committed murder. Showing just the last little piece there is not fair.”

The judge said he would allow no more of that.

“The court finds that continuing pretrial publicity in this case by the attorneys involved will increase the risk of tainting a potential jury pool and will impair all parties’ right to a fair trial,” the judge said.

Judge Cahill responded by issuing a gag order, broadly restricting what lawyers, ex-cops Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao,  J. Alexander Kueng, and others can say publicly:

The parties and all attorneys for the parties shall not disclose, directly, indirectly or through third parties, any information, opinions, strategies, plans or potential evidence that relate to any of the above-captioned cases, either to the media or members of the general public. This includes, but is not limited to, any discovery provided to the parties, and any exhibits in the cases.

This order applies to all parties, attorneys, their employees, agents, or independent contractors working on their behalf.

[Images via Hennepin County mugshots]

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Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.