The conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sabotaged this week after the formerly anonymous Juror #52 went people with interviews to talk about his experience on the jury and support the motion to curtail police abuse. The problem wasn’t the general disclosure of his individuality (which jurors could opt to do) but what his self-identification triggered on the Internet. A picture soon emerged showing Brandon Mitchell wearing a Dark Lives Matter T-shirt using some reference to the passing of George Floyd. The image had been increased as contradicting his replies from voir dire and raising an appellate question regarding juror bias that could be utilized to challenge the conviction.
The photograph trending on interpersonal media was initially posted on Facebook in August 2020 and shows Mitchell wearing a hat that says”Dark Lives Matter” and a T-shirt that states”BLM” with the words,”Get Your Knee Off Our Necks,” a more common reference to the passing of Floyd.
There’s , of course, nothing wrong with the picture and it reflected the pride of his uncle if they moved to march in Washington to commemorate MLK’s famous 1963″I have a dream” speech. The march highlighted the campaign against police abuse and clearly several protested the killing of Floyd. Mitchell claims that he did not go to protest the Floyd killing.
The issue is really how Mitchell replied the voir dire questions. By Way of Example, Mitchell replies in the negative to 2 questions:
“Can you, or someone near you, participate in any of those demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis later George Floyd’s departure?” One question read, according to the paper.
On March 15, Mitchell was also asked by the judge on March 15 if he had been aware of the Chauvin situation and George Floyd. He responded by stating that he’d heard”some basic advice about trial dates, etc from the news”, but perhaps not the kind of information”that would prevent him from working as an impartial juror.”
I am not sure why the shield could not have found this film on the world wide web, which may increase a collateral issue in almost any obstacle. However, this is still a plausible foundation for additional investigation and potential challenge.
In Irvin v. Dowd, 366 U.S. 717, 722 (1961), the Supreme Court said”the minimal standards of due procedure” require a fair hearing before competent and impartial jurors. See also United States v. Tegzes, 715 F.2d 505, 507 (11th Cir. 1983) (citing Murphy v. Florida, 421 U.S. 794, 799 (1975)(“inherent standard of fairness requires that the criminally accused have’a panel of impartial, indifferent jurors. ”’). In cases such as Pena-Rodriguez, the Supreme Court has held that statements from the jury area showing racial prejudice justifies reversal. The lineup is much more blurry on political prejudice, but a few cases involve a juror who formerly discussed the suspect and his case.
YouTube ScreenshotThe controversy is similar to discoveries made about Juror 1261 from the trial of Trump partner Roger Stone. I composed a number of columns about Tomeka Hart who certainly gave false or misleading responses in voir dire. She not only participated in undisclosed protests and published anti-Trump statements on the Internet but specifically spoke with the Stone case.
However, District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson engaged in willful blindness to justification Hart’s conduct and avoid ordering a new trial. I called that the court would dismiss the motion as opposed to shield the suspect’s right to an unbiased jury. The court brushed aside these clear examples of prejudice. Jackson wrote:
“The defendant has not shown that the juror lied; nor has he revealed that the allegedly disqualifying evidence could not have been discovered via the exercise of due diligence at the time the jury had been selected. Additionally, while the social networking communications may imply that the juror has strong opinions about particular people or problems, they do not show that she had a notion regarding Roger Stone, which is the opinion that things… On the extent one can think about any of the social networking posts to be inconsistent with the juror’s questionnaire, they do not justify a new trial only because they do not meet the legal test for something that was’recently discovered’ [A] defendant seeking a new trial has to prove that the information presented in his motion could not have been discovered earlier through the exercise of due diligence.”
The court notes
“the foreperson’s perspectives were not concealed at the right time of jury selection. The juror’s personal affiliation with Democratic ideology has been set forth in her written replies. She said right out that she had remarks regarding the”officials” on the record of individuals who could be mentioned in the instance, also Donald Trump was arguably the very prominent, if not the sole real’official’ named.”
It was publicly accessible on social networking and the question remains why the defense wasn’t alert to the previous expressions of political prejudice by Hart. An individual would have believed that Hart’s political ago would have caused higher evaluation of her previous statements however, as I mentioned previously, the transcript shows only a brief and matter-of-fact evaluation.
Jackson’s choice reveals the extra burden faced by defendants in expensive, high-profile trials. Judge do not wish to experience the cost and injury of a new trial, especially with the danger of rioting. They talk a fantastic game of the guarantee of a fair trial, however if faced with juror prejudice, they seldom act to shield it in these instances.
It’s still not clear the extent of any prejudice in the event of Mitchell. Some reports suggest that he may have done podcasts police brutality and the George Floyd case. That might be especially severe, though we saw from the Stone trial the spans that courts will go to get around the obvious.
The defense will have the exact identical uphill struggle from the Chauvin appeal and the inquiry is whether there’s anything in addition to to picture. It will also have to be prepared to respond, as in the Stone situation, why it did not carry out a full Internet research on potential jurors.
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