My VIP for this week is Peter Cahill, the Hennepin County District Judge overseeing the Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. Today, Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, urged Judge Cahill to declare a mistrial for something happened over the weekend.
Representative Maxine Waters flew into Minneapolis and told protesters to “get confrontational” if Chauvin is cleared in the death of George Floyd. These stunning words came as riots have been raging in Minneapolis for the past three or four days since another black man was killed by a cop. The new riots come after months of riots following Floyd’s death last May.
Nelson asked for the mistrial because “an elected official, US Congressperson” made statements that “I think are reasonably interpreted to be threats against the sanctity of the jury process” and had the effect of “threatening and intimidating the jury.”
Cahill denied the motion for a mistrial, but he told Nelson, “I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.” Cahill then condemned Waters for her behavior and words.
This goes back to what I’ve been saying from the beginning. 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 opinion 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’s prejudiced us with additional material that would prejudice this jury.
The mixed-race jury – six white and six minority -- is still out on this case. Will the jurors be intimidated by the threats by Waters and rioters? Will they make their decision based on the evidence, or will they make it because they are afraid of the consequences? We do not know, but it was nice to hear Cahill state openly that the behavior of Maxine Waters was abhorrent.