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Jury selection to begin Tuesday morning in Chauvin trial unless court of appeals intervenes

"Unless the court of appeals tells me otherwise, we're going to keep moving," Judge Peter Cahill said after the prosecution asked the higher court for a stay.

MINNEAPOLIS — Monday, March 8

  • Jury selection in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin delayed until at least Tuesday
  • Prosecution asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to put jury selection on hold
  • Defense plans to ask state Supreme Court to review the issue of adding the third-degree murder charge
  • More than a dozen activist groups marching in downtown Minneapolis
  • George Floyd's sister after sitting in courtroom with Chauvin: 'I just really wanted that officer to know how much love Floyd had'

Jury selection in the highest profile murder case in recent memory has been delayed at least a day, but the judge says it will start Tuesday unless a higher court orders him to stop.

Most of the debate centers around a potential third-degree murder charge that could be added to the case, an issue that is now making its way through the higher courts.

The defense attorney for Derek Chauvin said Monday morning that he intends to ask the state Supreme Court to review the appeals court's decision on that charge. In light of that, the prosecution asked the judge to delay jury selection. He refused, so the prosecution is asking the court of appeals for a stay.

The court of appeals has agreed to consider the prosecution's request for a stay, but has not given any indication of whether proceedings should pause while they decide. Judge Peter Cahill delayed jury selection until Tuesday, but said at the end of proceedings Monday, "Unless the court of appeals tells me otherwise, we're going to keep moving."

Meanwhile, demonstrators are marching through downtown Minneapolis, chanting for justice for George Floyd.  

KARE 11 has live updates below, and Lou Raguse is posting about the day's developments on Twitter.

3:45 p.m.

George Floyd's sister, Bridgett, spoke to the media after the first day of court proceedings in the Derek Chauvin murder trial.

“It’s an honor to see the support and love that is out here today, that has been out here for nine months,” she said. “But it’s not an honor to be standing out here talking about him because of a knee on his neck.”

Judge Peter Cahill has ruled that the family may have one person in the courtroom at a time due to COVID-19 restrictions. Bridgett Floyd was the George Floyd family representative on Monday.

“I’m here to be his voice today,” she said. “My family and I are glad the wait is finally over and the day is here. We are praying for justice. Our hope is that justice prevails and we can all use this as an opportunity to be better and do better for those around us.”

Bridgett Floyd acknowledged that it was difficult to be in the courtroom.

“I sat in the courtroom today and looked at the officer who took my brother’s life,” she said. “I just really wanted that officer to know how much love Floyd had, not only by me and his family, but you guys too and the people around the country."

She remembered George Floyd as someone who would "give the shirt off his back to a stranger." She said he would listen to other's troubles, without letting on that he had troubles of his own.

Bridgett said Floyd was family-oriented and that his daughter, Gianna, meant the world to him. 

"We will never get that back," she said. "I want you guys to continue to pray for our family, because we need it."

1:30 p.m.

Judge Peter Cahill resumed court proceedings Monday at 1:30 p.m. in the case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.

While jury selection was delayed until at least Tuesday, the judge heard some limited unrelated pretrial motions from both the defense and the prosecution.

After the judge denied a prosecution request to delay jury selection on Monday morning, the prosecution asked the Minnesota Court of Appeals to issue a stay on the proceedings. When court resumed at 1:30 p.m., Cahill reported that the Minnesota Court of Appeals has said they will consider the merits of the prosecution’s request. He has decided to move forward with the proceedings unless he is ordered to hold off.

At issue is whether the trial should be halted while a question about an additional third-degree murder charge makes its way through the higher courts. On Friday, the state court of appeals ruled that Judge Cahill must reconsider his decision not to allow that charge. But defense attorney Eric Nelson has said he will ask the state Supreme Court to review that court's decision.

The prosecution wants to hold off on jury selection until that matter is resolved, saying that Cahill does not have jurisdiction, while the defense appeals to the state Supreme Court.

Prosecutor Matthew Frank said Monday afternoon that he remains “concerned about the court proceeding with matters” while the state’s request for a stay is pending.

Nonetheless, Frank began presenting pretrial motions to the judge. The first motions to be decided had to do with sequestration of witnesses, whether expert witnesses can watch the testimony of other expert witnesses, and what the various parties should be called in the courtroom.

The judge agreed that witnesses cannot watch the live stream of the trial if they are expected to testify again at some point. The state agreed to use names like "George Floyd" rather than phrases like "the victim," but the judge said he won't necessarily police the language that the attorneys use.

The state agreed not to mention Derek Chauvin's tax fraud case in Washington County, unless it gets opened up with Rule 608 (having to go after the truthfulness of a witness). The state also agreed not to include medical examinations performed by doctors hired by the Floyd family.

Both sides will need to provide a narrowed-down witness list by March 22. Their initial lists include 400 potential witnesses. Each side will also need to provide a daily list of the next day's potential witnesses. Judge Cahill said he will aim to have each witness take only one day, even if that means proceedings go past 4:30 p.m.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson told the judge that Chauvin's defense team found remnants of meth and fentanyl in the back of the police car they tried to put George Floyd in the day he died. He brought it up in a comparison to a 2019 arrest of Floyd, which he wants to use at trial, showing that Floyd's "modus operandi" was to ingest drugs when stopped by police.

The judge had already denied this request.

"You can make your offer of proof, we can consider it later," Cahill said. "But I'll be honest, I'm not convinced."

Prosecutor Matthew Frank countered that only meth was found in the squad car.

The judge said he thinks any value in allowing the previous arrest at trial is outweighed by its "prejudicial" nature.

Nelson told the judge that he and Frank met earlier and mutually agreed to strike 16 people from the list of potential jurors "for cause." Nelson said they have only gotten through the first 50 at this time. They are able to strike jurors before selection begins because all the potential jurors have already filled out a questionnaire.

Just after 2:45 p.m., the judge said court will recess until 8 a.m. on Tuesday. He expects jury selection to begin at 9 a.m., after providing an hour for more pretrial motions.

10:15 a.m.

Prosecutor Matthew Frank has filed a motion with the Minnesota Court of Appeals to delay jury selection in the Derek Chauvin trial.

Frank said he has also left voicemails with the appeals court, seeking guidance on whether they can order the judge to halt proceedings until that appeal is resolved. 

The state wants to put jury selection on hold until the issue of a pending third-degree murder charge has made its way through the higher courts. Right now, the defense attorney Eric Nelson is preparing a petition to the state Supreme Court to review the appeals court decision on that matter.

"I think I've made it pretty clear that until somebody tells me to stop, I'm going to continue with everything except Murder-3," Judge Peter Cahill said.

RELATED: Demonstrators march in downtown Minneapolis as Derek Chauvin trial procedures begin

Potential jurors have been sent home for the day, with jury selection scheduled to start Tuesday unless the court of appeals orders the judge to put it on hold.

The judge said court will resume at 1:30 on Monday to potentially go through any motions that all parties agree they can discuss at this time. There could also be further developments on the trial timeline if contact has been made with the court of appeals by that time.

10 a.m.

Court is expected to resume around 10 a.m. Monday in the Derek Chauvin trial, at which time the judge may hear other motions or provide more clarity on the timeline.

Earlier Monday morning, prosecutor Matthew Frank said he plans to ask the Minnesota Court of Appeals to put jury selection on hold while a pending third-degree murder charge makes its way through the higher courts. The judge suggested getting phone guidance from the court of appeals on whether they want to issue a writ to halt proceedings while they consider the appeal.

Judge Cahill referenced other cases where a lesser charge has been added midstream in a trial. KARE 11 reporter Lou Raguse says that may indicate that he's laying the groundwork for a similar instance in this case.

Technically third-degree murder is a lesser charge, although the penalties would likely be the same as the second-degree murder charge Chauvin is already facing.

Meanwhile a crowd is marching near the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, chanting for justice for George Floyd and for other police killings.

That demonstration was organized by more than a dozen activist groups.

9:20 a.m.

Jury selection in the Derek Chauvin trial is delayed until at least Tuesday, as the prosecution asks the Minnesota Court of Appeals for a stay.

Prosecutor Matthew Frank said Monday morning that the state will seek to get the jury selection process halted as the issue of adding a third-degree murder charge makes its way through the higher courts.

That's after Judge Peter Cahill denied the prosecution's request to delay jury selection while that matter is pending. Defense attorney Eric Nelson has indicated that he will ask the state Supreme Court to review the latest decision from the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which ordered Judge Cahill to reconsider adding the charge.

Frank said the state will appeal Cahill's decision to move forward with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Cahill said he believes jury selection and other motions can continue "unless someone tells me not to." He acknowledged that the prosecution has the right to file that appeal. However, he said the court of appeals would have to issue a "telephonic writ" to stop proceedings while the matter is pending.

Judge Peter Cahill said the prosecution's appeal realistically means jury selection will not start until Tuesday at the earliest. He dismissed the jurors for the day and said jury selection will start Tuesday depending on what the court of appeals says.

Prosecutor Matthew Frank said the chief reason is that they do not want to go down the path of getting a conviction that could potentially be overturned on a future appeal.  

Court will resume at 10 a.m. Monday with other motions.

8:30 a.m.

Monday morning, a judge ruled that jury selection can continue in the Derek Chauvin trial even as a legal issue regarding the third-degree murder charge makes its way up through the higher courts.

The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd’s death, is one of the highest-profile cases in recent history.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., after the judge denied a prosecution request to delay the process during pretrial motions.

Initially, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder in George Floyd's death, but the defense asked to have the charge dropped for lack of probable cause and a judge agreed. 

Third-degree murder is a rarely used statute in Minnesota. According to Minnesota law, murder in the third degree is committed when there isn't intent or premeditation. An example of the use of the third-degree murder charge would be used against a person who fired a gun in to a crowd or drove through a crowded sidewalk. The charge is typically used only when the act is more broad, not aimed at one person.

RELATED: Judge upholds 8 of 9 charges in George Floyd case, drops lesser charge against Chauvin

Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor was convicted on this charge for fatally shooting Justine Ruszczyk Damond in July 2017, and the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently upheld that charge, saying that it can indeed apply when the death-causing act is directed at an individual.

RELATED: Minnesota Supreme Court to review Mohamed Noor's third-degree murder conviction

On Friday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued an opinion saying that the precedent set in the Noor case was binding authority when it was filed. Therefore, Presiding Judge Michelle Larkin wrote that District Judge Peter Cahill erred when he refused to reinstate the third-degree murder charge in Chauvin's case.

The appeals court reversed Cahill's order and said the district court needs to reconsider the state's motion to reinstate third-degree murder.

Larkin wrote that the judge can consider any additional arguments from Chauvin's defense, but his decision "must be consistent with this opinion."

The defense said on Monday that they will ask the state Supreme Court to review the court of appeals decision.

Prosecutor Matthew Frank argued that because the defense is appealing to the state Supreme Court, the district judge no longer has jurisdiction of the case while it's in the hands of a higher court. He asked the judge to delay jury selection, saying that the prosecution does not want to choose jurors before they know what the final charges will be.

“We’re not trying to delay this case,” Frank told the judge. “We want to try it, but we want to try it right, and we only get to try it right once.” 

Chauvin's defense attorney Eric Nelson argued the opposite, that the court has jurisdiction over everything besides that specific charge.

"We're prepared to try this case," Nelson said. "It is not our intent to cause delay by filing a PFR (petition for review)."

Nelson said he intends to file his petition "posthaste," and that it's almost ready to be submitted aside from a few edits. 

"We have a three-week window of time where we can accomplish a lot," he said.

Judge Peter Cahill noted that because the matter of the third-degree murder charge is fairly narrow, he believes the jury selection and other unrelated motions can continue. Cahill said they should move forward and see where they are at on March 29, when opening statements are scheduled to begin.

Judge Cahill acknowledged that the prosecutors can still seek a "writ of prohibition" if they believe him to be acting outside of his jurisdiction.

A rally involving more than a dozen activist groups is also underway outside the Hennepin County Government Center, demanding justice for George Floyd. Peaceful demonstrations were held all weekend, from a prayer gathering to a silent march.

RELATED: Court of Appeals orders district court to reconsider Derek Chauvin 3rd-degree murder charge

The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is the culmination of months of protests, marches and legal filings in the state of Minnesota. 

As shown in a cellphone video captured by a 17-year-old girl, Minneapolis police officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng responded to a call about a fake $20 bill around 8 p.m. on May 25, 2020. They found George Floyd sitting in a vehicle outside the Cup Foods at the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis.

The two officers confronted Floyd, and as they tried to put him in their cruiser, Officer Derek Chauvin and his partner Tou Thao arrived. 

Chauvin suggested putting Floyd onto the ground, where he held him with his knee to Floyd's neck for nearly nine and a half minutes. 

As the watching crowd grew more and more concerned, Lane suggested rolling Floyd over and Chauvin said no. Kueng eventually checked for a pulse and couldn't find one. 

At 9:25 that night, George Floyd was pronounced dead at the Hennepin County Medical Center. 

In the days that followed, people called for justice and the four officers were relieved of their duties and removed from the Minneapolis police force.

On Friday, May 29, former officer Chauvin was charged in the death of George Floyd. The other three officers were charged on June 3. 

After numerous court filings in the following weeks, it was ruled that Derek Chauvin would first stand trial, alone, followed by the other three officers. Their trial is tentatively planned to take place this summer. 

RELATED: George Floyd's death to the Derek Chauvin trial: A timeline