Derek Chauvin lawyer says Floyd settlement tainted jury pool

The lawyer for ex-cop Derek Chauvin at the George Floyd murder trial said Monday that a $27 million wrongful death settlement has tainted the jury pool — and wants the trial halted or moved out of Minneapolis.

At issue is Friday’s announcement that the Minnesota city reached the hefty settlement with Floyd’s family in their wrongful death suit over his May 25 police-custody death.

The concern for the defense is that the city’s decision to settle rather than fight the civil case could be seen as an admission of guilt.

“The fact that this came in the exact middle of jury selection, it’s perplexing to me, your honor,” defense attorney Eric Nelson told Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill on Monday.

“There are things that the court should be obligated to do to protect the jury from future questionable press releases,” Nelson said.

“One thing I think the court should strongly consider is a request for a continuance, your honor, (and) renewal of our change of venue motion.”

Cahill called it “a legitimate concern,” and will bring the seven jurors selected as of Friday back into court to question them on whether the settlement affected their view of the case.

The judge said he will also consider Nelson’s other requests — but continued with jury selection in the meantime.

Minneapolis agrees on settling with George Floyd family for 27mn USD

Bridgett Floyd (right), sister of George Floyd, speaks to the media outside the Hennepin County Government Center on March 8, 2021.

Craig Lassig/EPA


George Floyd’s daughter Gianna Floyd, 6, hugs her mother, Roxi Washington, as they appear at a news conference about Floyd’s death on June 2, 2020.

Craig Lassig/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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The settlement issue surfaced on the fifth day of jury selection in the highly volatile and divisive case, with two more jurors selected to serve on the panel as of midday Monday.

In all, there are now nine jurors seated for the trial — three white men, two black men, two white women, a Hispanic man, and a woman who identifies as multi-racial.

But the high-profile nature of the case has forced both sides to burn through more than half of their allotted jury challenges — the defense has used eight of their 15, and the prosecution has used five of their nine.

Lawyers for both sides have thus far questioned 31 potential jurors, many of whom have been dismissed or challenged because of their opinion of the high-profile case — including viral footage of Floyd’s death and their views on Black Lives Matter.

Friday’s civil settlement seemed to immediately add a new hurdle — Monday’s first prospective juror admitted she heard the news Friday and it changed her view.

George Floyd Officer Trial

Defense attorney Eric Nelson (left) and defendant former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin listen as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over pre-trial motions on March 15, 2021.

Court TV/Pool via AP

George Floyd Officer Trial

A group of protesters march in the snow around the Hennepin County Government Center on Monday, March 15, 2021.

Jim Mone/AP

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The woman, who works in human resources, said she feels that “generally, the preponderance of evidence in civil cases leans towards guilt.”

Opening arguments in the case are scheduled for March 29, pending further delays or Cahill’s rulings on the defense’s renewed change of venue request.

Chauvin faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the case — and an additional third-degree murder charge that Cahill reinstated last week.

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