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Opinion: prosecutors play smart in Derek Chauvin trial

This is not the case. For reasons deeply rooted in American culture and its legal system, a conviction might be incredibly difficult to secure in this case. It is in the interest of the prosecution to inundate the jury with testimony from police officers.

At least 10 law enforcement witnesses testified, and all largely agreed on the same general principle: that Chauvin used excessive force that went beyond the training he received from the department. Minneapolis Police Station.

For example, on Tuesday Lt. Johnny Mercil, a use of force instructor with the ministry’s training unit, testified that kneeling with Floyd’s neck is not a neck restraint tactic. . Minneapolis Police Officer Nicole Mackenzie, medical response coordinator and CPR instructor, said officers are required to provide first aid and call for emergency services when someone needs help. medical help – which likely raised an argument from the prosecution later in the lawsuit that Chauvin and his colleagues’ failure to provide medical care to Floyd was itself negligent. Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Jody Stiger, a use of force expert, expressed his personal opinion that the force Chauvin used on Floyd was excessive. Even Medaria Arradondo, chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, testified that he understood Chauvin’s actions were not in line with department policy.
It was not necessary for the Prosecution to call all these witnesses. Arradondo alone, along with videos from the scene, would likely have been sufficient to establish both what happened on the day of Floyd’s death and the MPD’s training standards. The trial could then have quickly moved on to evidence to argue that Chauvin is guilty of causing Floyd’s death under Minnesota law. It is one of the few places in life or law where overdoing it is a good idea.
First, Chauvin will have a defense against the charges against him if it can be established that the force he used was “objectively reasonable”. According to the Supreme Court, in its opinion of 1989 Graham vs. Connor, “The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than the 20/20 view of hindsight.” This is inherently subjective and does not respond simply by posting a spooky video of what appears to be Chauvin ending Floyd’s life. Unlike many other criminal trials, the issue here is not whether the accused has an alibi; The fundamental questions of the trial are inherently subjective, and it is only through the introduction of overwhelming evidence – some of which duplicates – that prosecutors will stand a chance of winning.

Moreover, while the words “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” are as much part of the public consciousness as terms such as “prosecution”, “defense” and “you have the right to remain silent”, the concept of “doubt” reasonable ”is incredibly complex without a clear and universal definition.

Opinion: prosecutors play smart in Derek Chauvin trial
The Minnesota judicial branch explains in a glossary that in order to find a person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury must have “a high degree of certainty as to the guilt of the defendant, although it is not necessary that he is 100% convinced ”. The Minnesota Model Jury Instructions, which courts and lawyers often use to develop the language used to instruct jurors on the law, conclude that reasonable doubt is evidence “upon which normally prudent men and women would act in their own way. most important matters. A reasonable doubt is a reasonable doubt. A doubt based on reason and common sense. It does not mean fanciful or capricious doubt, nor does it mean beyond all possibility of doubt. “

What do these definitions mean in practice? Even after having had the concept explained by a judge through instructions to the jury, one juror’s notion of reasonable doubt may differ considerably from that of another. Here, where a central issue for jurors to consider is whether the defendant’s actions were “reasonable,” prosecutors must minimize any possibility that there may be lingering doubt as to the outcome.

Finally, Chauvin prosecutors have an added burden in that it is quite difficult to convict officers for their conduct on duty. Police are rarely charged with crimes arising from their use of force, and even when they are, convictions are rare. According to data compiled by Philip M. Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University, the conviction rate for police officers who commit murder or manslaughter while on duty is about 50%, which is lower than the roughly 70%. of people convicted when charged. with murder. Juries, as members of an audience often learned to trust law enforcement by reflex, tend to dispel doubts in favor of the police. To that end, it’s no surprise that there has never been more than one known murder conviction of a police officer in Minnesota.
For the Chauvin trial, jurors were selected in part on the basis of either their lack of knowledge of the case or their ability to put aside everything they know about the case – including knowledge nationwide protests after Floyd’s death around police brutality and race – in order to hear the facts without judgment. They may not have the same connection to the evidence of the case as an audience that has followed it with keen attention. They may never have seen before the graphic proof of Floyd’s death which remains painful to see a year later, and further convinces me, along with many others, of Chauvin’s guilt every time she is shown on television.
Presenting so many witnesses took a long time and even created openings that the defense could exploit during cross-examination. However, prosecutors’ strategy has been sound so far. Their work is done for them.


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