Just moments after the jury had exited the courtroom on Monday to begin deliberations in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged in the death of George Floyd, Chauvin’s defense attorney pushed for a mistrial over its coverage.
“Now that we have U.S. representatives threatening acts of violence in relation to the specifics of this specific case, it’s mind-boggling to me,” Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, said to the judge.
“Well, I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” Judge Peter Cahill replied.
Over the weekend, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., attended a Black Lives Matter rally in Brooklyn Center, Minn., to protest the killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man, by police. At the rally, she encouraged activists to “get more confrontational” if Chauvin is not convicted of murder.
"I hope we get a verdict that says guilty, guilty, guilty," Waters said Saturday in response to a reporter’s question. "And if we don't, we cannot go away. We've got to stay on the street. We get more active, we've got to get more confrontational. We've got to make sure that they know that we mean business."
Like Nelson, Cahill took issue with the congresswoman’s comments.
“I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law,” Cahill said. “I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so respectfully and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution, to respect a coequal branch of government.”
He went on to call Waters’s comments “abhorrent” but not prejudicial to the jury.
“They have been told not to watch the news,” Cahill said. “I trust that they are following those instructions.”
“A congresswoman’s opinion doesn’t matter a whole lot,” he added, denying Nelson’s motion for a mistrial.
Cover thumbnail photo: J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images
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