A request for a new trial is common after a guilty verdict and often reflects issues that will be raised on appeal, said Mike Brandt, a Minneapolis defense attorney who has been following the case closely. If that request is denied, it may add another layer of decisions for Nelson to appeal. Brandt and others have said Chauvin’s convictions are unlikely to be overturned.
Nelson cited many reasons in his request for a new trial. He said Judge Peter Cahill abused the court’s discretion and violated Chauvin’s due process and fair trial right when he dismissed Nelson’s request to move the trial to another county due to pre-trial publicity.
He also said Cahill abused his discretion by denying an earlier request for a new trial based on publicity during the proceedings, which Nelson said threatened the fairness of the trial. Nelson said the ad included the “intimidation” of the expert defense witness, which he said could have a “chilling effect” on the defendants’ ability to obtain expert witnesses in high-profile cases, including the upcoming business of the other three. former officers accused of Floyd’s death.
“The publicity here was so pervasive and so damaging before and during this trial that it amounted to a structural flaw in the process,” Nelson wrote.
Nelson also challenged Cahill’s refusal to sequester the trial jury or warn them to avoid all media, and his refusal to allow a man who was with Floyd at the time of his arrest to testify.
Nelson said Cahill also abused his discretion by submitting instructions to the jury that Nelson said did not faithfully reflect the law on murder charges and use of force, allowing the state to present evidence cumulative on the use of force and ordered the state to lead witnesses on direct examination, among other things.
Nelson also asked the judge for a hearing to impeach the verdict on the grounds that the jury had committed misconduct, felt racial pressure, felt intimidated or threatened and / or had not followed the jury’s instructions, although the file did not include details of this claim. To challenge a verdict is to question its validity.
The brief did not mention recent reports that one of the jurors participated in an August 28 march in Washington, DC, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.
That juror, Brandon Mitchell, defended his actions, saying the event was to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington and was not a protest against Floyd’s death. Floyd’s brother and sister Philonise and Bridgett Floyd, along with relatives of others shot by police, addressed the crowd during last summer’s march.
Nelson did not immediately return a message requesting details of his allegation of juror misconduct.
Brandt said Nelson would likely file more detailed written arguments on these issues. The purpose of holding a hearing to impeach the verdict would be to build a factual record and present evidence to determine whether the verdict has been compromised. If a hearing is granted, Mitchell is likely to be called in to answer questions, Brandt said.