Judge Peter Cahill, who is presiding over the murder trial of fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, denied a defense motion for a mistrial regarding a statement made by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California, 43rd District). Even so, the judge criticized the congresswoman for demanding a conviction and calling for protesters to get more “confrontational.”
“This goes back to what I’ve been saying from the beginning,” he said. “I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function. I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution. To respect a co-equal branch of government. Their failure to do so I think is abhorrent, but I don’t think it has prejudiced us with additional material that would prejudice this jury. They have been told not to watch the news. I trust they are following those instructions, and that there is not in any way a prejudice to the defendant.”
At the end, Judge Cahill asserted, “A congresswoman’s opinion really doesn’t matter a whole lot.”
Chauvin is on trial after he was seen on video around the world kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, 46, who was handcuffed and prone on the ground. Prosecutors said Chauvin did this for nine minutes and 29 seconds, even as the victim cried out in pain and fell unresponsive. He refused to get off at the behest of outraged bystanders because of “ego-driven pride,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher said in closing arguments on Monday. Chauvin’s defense lawyer Eric Nelson maintained that Floyd died from a combination of drug use and health problems, but not the stress of the arrest.
“We’ve got to stay on the street, and we’ve got to get more active,” Waters said. “We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Waters was “talk[ing] about confrontation in the manner of the civil rights movement,” not inciting violence.
The jury’s deliberations in the Chauvin trial have begun. He faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]
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