The case against former Minneapolis police office Derek Chauvin is the biggest trial of the 21st century so far.
And it almost ended in a mistrial, thanks to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. — which would mean starting the entire process over again.
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The defense team of Chauvin asked Judge Peter Cahill on Monday to declare a mistrial over Waters comments to protesters and rioters.
The controversial Congresswoman crossed state lines over the weekend and said the nightly riots and protests should become more violent and “confrontational” if Chauvin isn’t convicted of first-degree murder.
Chauvin isn’t on trial for first-degree murder; he is on trial for charges of unintentional murder and manslaughter, which carry lesser penalties.
The defense team argued that Waters was “threatening acts of violence” against the jury, which could influence their decision.
“Threatening and intimidating the jury and demanding, if there’s not a guilty verdict, that there would be further problems,” Defense attorney Eric Nelson said. “I just don’t know how this jury can really be said to be free from the taint of this, and now that we have US representatives threatening acts of violence in relation to this specific case.
“It’s mind-boggling to me, judge,” he said.
Cahill denied the defense’s mistrial request but said he sympathized with the defense. Specifically, Cahill said that Waters’ “abhorrent” comments have opened a clear appeal request from Chauvin if he’s convicted.
“I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal, that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” the judge said. “This goes back to what I’ve been saying from the beginning, I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case — especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law, and the judicial branch and our function.”
“Their failure to do so is abhorrent,” Cahill said, but stopped short of declaring a mistrial. “I don’t think it has presented us with additional information that would prejudice the jury.”
Waters isn’t the only one attempting to intimidate witnesses and the jury involved in the trial.
The former home of an expert in police use-of-force, who testified on behalf of the defense, was targeted by a mob dressed in all black on Saturday.
The former front door and garage of Barry Brodd — a 29-year veteran of the police force who was previously a training officer with the Santa Rosa, California police department — was smeared with blood and a pig’s head was thrown on the doorstep. The mob confronted the current homeowner before fleeing.
Brodd moved from the residence years ago, but the house was still targeted over his testimony, police said.
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“Because Mr. Brodd no longer lives in the city of Santa Rosa, it appears the victim was falsely targeted,” the Santa Rosa police said in a statement.
The Horn editorial team