Judge Peter Cahill told the defense on Monday (April 19) that while Rep. Waters’ comments at a protest over the weekend weren’t grounds for a mistrial, they might have given Chauvin’s attorneys an opportunity to appeal.
“I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” Cahill said after Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, brought up the comments. Nelson did not mention Waters by name, but reiterated his earlier request to have the jury sequestered to avoid them potentially hearing or reading news.
Waters was at a demonstration in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on Saturday (April 17) and said protesters would “stay in the street,” and “get more confrontational” if a not guilty verdict is handed down in the Chauvin trial. Waters attended the protest in support of those demanding justice for Daunte Wright who was killed by a police officer on April 11.
“We’re looking for a guilty verdict and we’re looking to see if all of the talk that took place has been taking place after they saw what happened to George Floyd. If nothing does not happen, then we know that we got to not only stay in the street, but we have got to fight for justice,” Waters 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,” Cahill said from the bench on Monday (April 19).
“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 coequal branch of government,” he added.
Rep. Waters told CNN her comments didn’t give the defense grounds for appeal and that she meant confrontation in the historical context of the Civil Rights Movement, adding that “the whole civil rights movement is confrontation.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he didn’t believe Waters “advocated violence,” adding however, the judge’s belief that her words could be ground for appeal “concerns me.”
Some have called for Waters’ removal from the House, while others shared Hoyer's concern about the judge’s belief.
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