Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill said jury selection would continue today (March 9), even though the charge could potentially be reinstated against Chauvin who is accused of killing George Floyd last May.
According to a report by The Washington Post, the proceedings stopped after prosecutors in the trial asked Cahill if he could move forward in the trial without making a ruling on the reinstatement of the third-degree murder charge. Cahill threw out the charge last fall, stating it couldn’t be applied to the case against Chauvin. On Friday (March 5), however, a Minnesota Court of Appeals ordered Cahill to reconsider his decision to throw out the third-degree murder charge. By the time court proceedings started on Monday morning (March 8), the appeals court hadn’t made a ruling in the matter yet, and potential jurors were sent home, per USA Today.
On Monday afternoon, after the potential jurors had been sent away, and the court had recessed for several hours, the appeals court told the prosecution that it would consider a third-degree charge for a stay, but court proceedings could continue. Judge Cahill, prompted by the appeals court’s statement to the prosecution, set jury selection to start back up Tuesday morning. “I’m going to keep going until I’m told to stop,” Cahill said, per The Post.
Chauvin currently faces second-degree murder and manslaughter after kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Three weeks have been slated to complete the jury selection process and opening statements are set to begin on March 29.
In The Post’s report, legal experts weighed in on the matter, describing the continuation of proceedings as laying the groundwork for the case against Chauvin to potentially be thrown out.
“This court will be seating jurors for a trial about which we don’t know what the exact charges are going to be yet,” Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Matthew Frank said. Frank is the lead prosecutor in the case. “Our position is that while this appeal is pending, the court doesn’t have the authority to hear matters that are involved in the trial,” he added.
Eric Nelson, a lawyer of Chauvin, agreed that court proceedings should continue, however, The Post reported that he may file an appeal with the Minnesota Supreme Court if the appeals court allows the third-degree murder charge to be reinstated.
“We’re prepared to try this case. It is not our intent to cause delay…..” Nelson said in court on Monday (March 8). “However, I do have an ethical obligation to my client.” He continued, adding later that he didn’t think the court “is deprived of jurisdiction over anything other” than the pending third-degree murder charge.
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