Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill on Monday denied a defense motion for a mistrial in the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin but said that comments by US Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, were “disrespectful” and could “result in this whole trial being overturned.”
Attorney Eric Nelson’s motion cited media exposure, particularly comments Waters made to reporters in Minneapolis over the weekend, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Asked what protesters should do if Chauvin is not found guilty, Waters said, “We got to stay on the street. And we’ve got to get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”
Cahill told Nelson that “Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result on this whole trial being overturned.”
“This goes back to what I’ve been saying from the beginning,” the judge said. “I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function.
“I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution to respect a coequal branch of government,” Cahill said. “Their failure to do so I think is abhorrent, but I don’t think it has prejudiced us with additional material that would prejudice this jury.”
While the jury has not been sequestered for the trial, Cahill noted that he repeatedly cautioned them to pay no attention to news reports. The 12 jurors are now sequestered until they render their verdict.
The jury listened to six hours of closing arguments and rebuttal on Monday before heading in for deliberations, as CrimeOnline reported.
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[Featured image: Defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in court on Monday. (Court TV via AP, Pool)]