I’m inside the Jury Assembly Room of the Warren E. Burger Federal Building in St. Paul, where I viewed the Derek Chauvin plea hearing by video livestream this morning. I couldn’t keep up with the proceeding working on my phone. The hearing concluded just after 9:30 a.m. (Central). I am writing on my laptop following Judge Magnuson’s adjournment of the hearing. I just have few points to offer at this time.
The hearing took place in the form of the ritualized recitation of a waiver of rights and a plea agreement to resolve the pending civil rights charges against Derek Chauvin in the case of George Floyd and in an unrelated juvenile case deriving from September 2017. Chauvin pleaded guilty to one count in the Floyd case and to the information filed this morning in the juvenile case, which were combined for this purpose. Resolution of the charge in the 2017 case must have been a key component of the plea agreement.
The plea agreement involves a sentence of 20-25 years. Judge Magnuson has ordered a pre-sentence investigation to be completed before sentencing. Judge Magnuson has not yet accepted the plea. His acceptance is to be taken up at the sentencing hearing.
The sentence that is ultimately served in these cases is to run concurrently with the sentence Chauvin is serving in the state court murder conviction.
Any sentence served in these cases will be served in federal prison. I do not understand at what time that provision would come into play. Speaking with the court press officer, I am given to understand that the sentencing hearing may take up that question.
The federal case against the three other officers is now severed from Chauvin’s. The case against them is scheduled to proceed to trial next month.
My friend Bill Mohrman represents Chauvin on appeal in the state court case. That appeal continues. For reasons stated here many times, I doubt that Chauvin received a fair trial in Hennepin County. It is important that the appeal proceed. I will post a link to the Chauvin legal defense to support that appeal when I can track it down. [UPDATE: I think it is here. Carolyn Pawlenty is Chauvin’s mother.]
The ritual involved in the plea hearing took place in summary form so quickly I am not entirely sure I have these basic details down correctly. I will highlight any necessary corrections in an update to this post.
UPDATE: Lou Raguse has emailed notes including this summary of the plea terms conveyed in the hearing by Assistant United States Attorney Allen Slaughter for the government:
• Plead guilty to Ct 1 of indictment and Ct 2 of information (depravation of rights)
• Expect to serve time in federal custody.
• Dismiss Ct 3 as well as Ct 1 and 2 from separate indictment
• The guideline range for sentence if this went to trial was life in prison.
• In this agreement, Chauvin will serve no less than 240m (20 years) and no more than 300m (25 years)
• Prosecution will advocate for 300 m
• Sentence will run concurrent to state sentence.
• Judge notes that in federal court he would serve 90% of his time behind bars (18-22.5 years depending on what he gets) whereas in state court they serve 2/3 of the sentence behind bars.
• Chauvin will never serve as officer again.
HERE IS THE PLEA AGREEMENT: