By William McCurry
MINNEAPOLIS- The 14th juror was seated in former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. Opening arguments are schedule to begin on next Monday, March 29.
As the long day of jury selection commenced, it was easy to see how difficult it is to keep the jurors from seeing media coverage on the case. Each potential juror that Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill questioned stated that they heard about the $27 million settlement.
Despite the jurors hearing about this settlement, they all claimed they could put it aside and judge the case fairly and impartially.
Judge Cahill first questioned potential juror No. 118 about her questionnaire.
Judge Cahill brings comfort to the jurors about changing their answers if their opinions have changed since they filled out their questionnaire: “I want you to feel comfortable giving answers that are different from the questionnaire, as long as they’re honest, that’s what we want.”
Directly after Judge Cahill performed his questioning, Defense Attorney Eric Nelson began his questioning. Nelson began by asking a rather familiar question that most of the jurors hear first—”If you and I were to meet, under different circumstances, at a party or social event, what are a couple things I would learn about you?”
Juror 118 is a licensed social worker.
In her professional life, she has to resolve conflicts very frequently. Nelson asked, “I’m assuming in your professional context as a social worker you have encountered people you believe to be lying to you; how do you ascertain if someone is telling you the truth?” She responded by stating, “Asking questions, figure out where they’re coming from, why they believe that or why they’re thinking that way, evidence to what that idea or thought is and piece it all together to see if it all makes sense.”
“Let me ask you, in terms of your impression of Mr. Floyd, can you explain, there’s a wide spectrum,” Nelson asked this juror in response to her checking somewhat negative, neutral, and somewhat positive on her questionnaire. “I think that’s part of where I come from, always looking at every side of things. I’m just always looking at why someone may have done something a certain way,” she answered, justifying her broad spectrum of answers.
Following Nelson’s questions, Maslon Partner Steve Schleicher questioned this juror. He began by asking her, “Can you tell us a little bit more about your job, on the day to day?” This juror gets services in home for all ages in mental health, chemical help, and others. She provides services to ensure that people are safe and stay living in the community.
“Have you, in any of the discussions you’ve had with your immediate family, heard strong views expressed about this particular case?” She has been involved in conversations where Officer Chauvin shouldn’t have had his knee on George Floyd’s neck for “that long,” but nothing in regard to it happening at all.
Schleicher’s final question to this juror aimed at her thoughts of someone who doesn’t comply with the police in her profession. “Can you tell me what your thoughts would be of someone who does not comply with the police when they come in and, upon your request, try to remove a person.” She responded with, “I think it depends on the situation; since I haven’t experienced it I’m not quite sure how I would react to that, but I would hope that I would be able to work with law enforcement like they would be able to work with me to be able to get that person.”
After Judge Cahill and attorneys Nelson and Schleicher questioned potential juror No. 118, Judge Cahill informed her that she will serve on this jury. He instructed her to come back Monday, March 29, for the trial and to stay away from media coverage.
William McCurry is a fourth year at Sacramento State, majoring in Criminal Justice. He is from Brentwood, California.
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