Aggravating Chauvin’s sentence

Having been convicted of second-degree murder at trial for the death of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin is subject to a presumptive sentence of 12 and 1/2 years under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines. Prosecutors moved for an aggravated sentence in the case based on five so-called Blakley factors and applicable Minnesota law. Sentencing is scheduled for June 25.

Chauvin chose to submit the required findings of fact to Judge Cahill in place of, or rather than, the jury. The court has just posted Judge Cahill’s findings here. In his findings Judge Cahill adopts four of the five grounds urged by the prosecutors for aggravation of Chauvin’s sentence. He makes each of his four findings beyond a reasonable doubt. He rejects the fifth proposed finding.

The findings are based on the evidence at trial, the facts the jury must have found to convict Chauvin, and on the verdict itself. By the time we reach finding 4 — “Defendant committed the crime as a group [sic] with the active participation of three other persons” — they take on an absurd quality.

All public filings in the case are accessible via the court page dedicated to the case here. The prosecutors’ memorandum supporting aggravation of the sentence is posted here. Chauvin’s memorandum in opposition is posted here.

Judge Cahill adopted the the procedure to resolve the issue of aggravation in his January 26 order posted here. As I read paragraph 2 of the order, Judge Cahill has yet to determine whether his findings constitute “substantial and compelling circumstances justifying an aggravated durational departure from the presumptive sentence…” We will accordingly hear the rest of the story when he sentences Chauvin at the June 25 hearing, but the suspense on this point cannot be great.

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