Minneapolis city council sticks it to Chauvin

Today, the city of Minneapolis announced a $27 million settlement with the family of George Floyd. The family had sued the city for the alleged wrongful death of Floyd.

The announcement comes as the trial of Derek Chauvin proceeds through its early stages. The court is in the midst of selecting a jury.

Given its timing, the announcement looks to me like an attempt to prevent Chauvin from getting a fair trial, assuming there was ever any chance of him getting one in Minneapolis. But even if I’m wrong in saying that this is the city’s motive, it is almost certainly the effect of its announcement.

The Washington Post sees the problem. It states:

The settlement could have implications for the ongoing criminal trial of Derek Chauvin. . . .As jury selection began this week, Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, sought to block mention of any possible payout by the city to the Floyd family, arguing it would be prejudicial. . . .

[L]egal observers questioned if publicity over the settlement, which came on day four of jury selection, could result in a possible mistrial.

“I think it’s a potential disaster for Chauvin,” said Mary Moriarty, former chief Hennepin County public defender. She said if she were Chauvin’s attorney, she would request a mistrial.

“The concern is that jurors will be aware that the city gave George Floyd’s family a great deal of money,” Moriarty said. “And I suspect the jurors will have a hard time avoiding the news, even if they try.”

Of course they will.

The city council wants desperately to see Chauvin convicted. It has an ideological stake in that outcome. In addition, it hopes to avoid the rioting that would likely accompany an acquittal.

The interest of justice carries no weight for the council. Fairness for a civil servant who helped protect public safety in the city counts for nothing.

It’s scary that the power of multiple branches of government is being exerted this forcefully, and seemingly in concert, against a citizen who has been convicted of no crime. It’s also, I believe, a sign of things to come.

Residents of Minneapolis should be very afraid of their government.

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