The Chauvin appeal

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was unaccountably denied a public defender to appeal his convictions in the death of George Floyd. Bill Mohrman answered my call for a Minnesota attorney to represent Chauvin on appeal. Bill filed his brief on behalf of Chauvin this week. It is posted online here. Derek Chauvin’s mother has set up a page to support the expenses of appeal here.

Bill’s leading argument on appeal is that pretrial publicity and related riots required a change of venue. As we noted repeatedly during trial, the martial security that protected the courthouse graphically represented the issue. So did the anticipation of riots in the event of an acquittal.

The 24-story Hennepin County Government Center was closed to everything but the trial for reasons of security. Barricades and secure fencing topped with concertina wire surrounded the perimeter. The massive building was off limits to nearly everyone who wasn’t involved in the trial. The building was locked down and everyone — and I mean everyone — knew why.

We will be living with the devastating consequences of George Floyd’s death in Minnesota for a generation. The Minnesota Human Rights Department charge against the Minneapolis police earlier this week is just the latest chapter in the saga. A few contrarians might speak up publicly on behalf of the police to contest the merits of the charge even though it is dubious in critical respects. Good luck trying to get access to the 480,000 pages of documents and other material the department compiled in the course of its investigation.

The adversary process is intended to get at the truth. It doesn’t work if two sides aren’t represented and heard. Although Chauvin has pleaded guilty to the criminal civil rights charge in the duplicative federal case, Chauvin’s appeal of the murder convictions in the state case warrants resolution in its own right.

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