A juror who was one of the twelve who murdered guilty verdicts against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin attended a Washington, D.C. rally wearing a shirt that were the words”Make Your Knee Off Our Necks” along with also”BLM” emblazoned across the chest. That’s according to some since-deleted Facebook photograph detected from the International Business Times. The image raises serious legal questions of juror bias that will almost certainly be the subject of new court discussions and probable future court hearings in Chauvin’s case. However the legal community is divided as to if the photo is enough to change the results of Chauvin’s trial — in part since each the surrounding facts aren’t yet known and since the law puts a large premium on a juror’s promise to set aside preconceived opinions regarding instances.
The image, posted by comparative Travis Mitchell on August 31, 2020, reveals juror Brandon Mitchell”active[ly] symbolizing” in Washington, D.C. across the time of this so-called”Make Your Knee Off Our Necks” parade on Aug. 28.
Brandon Mitchell, known during jury decision as Juror 52, has been the only juror who returned a verdict to speak out publicly about the situation (another was another ). He has been vocal regarding the event that could wind with Chauvin receiving a possible 40-year sentence.
When asked regarding the t-shirt he wore to Washington, D.C., Mitchell told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune he’d”been” to the nation’s funds and attended the event”to be around thousands and tens of thousands of Black folks.”
“I only believed it was a fantastic opportunity to be part of a thing,” Mitchell continued. When asked by the newspaper if the event has been a”pursuit for [George] Floyd,” Mitchell stated it was”100% maybe not,” then cited the historic significance of the date of this rally. The newspaper said Mitchell believed the event to possess a meaning”beyond” the Chauvin situation (with its paraphrase, not his direct quotation ). The Star-Tribune further mentioned that George Floyd’s brother, Philonise, along with also his own sister, Bridgett, discussed at the function.
Despite his admitted attendance in the event sporting a motto which just entered the national lexicon after Floyd’s death, Mitchell said he replied”no” to jury questionnaire prompts that read as follows:
“Did you, or someone near you, take part in some of the demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death?”
“Other than what you’ve already explained above, have you ever, or anyone near you, participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality?”
The complete questionnaire had other similar prompts.
“I think I was being incredibly honest, for certain,” Mitchell told the newspaper concerning the jury selection procedure, including the questionnaire. “I gave my own views on what — on the scenario, on Black Lives Issue”
According to the jury poll’s own provisions, Mitchell’s answers were later needed to be filed under oath. That condition — because Mitchell’s very own oath later signaled — could result in the triggering of Minnesota’s perjury statute.
Mitchell told the other Minnesota book he believed”a calling” (to be a leader) when he obtained his own jury summons. In addition, he said he managed to put aside his feelings of being pulled over approximately 50 times by the Minneapolis Police Department while contemplating Chauvin’s destiny.
Talking to this Law&Crime Network within a previous interview, Mitchell reported the jury dismissed defense proposals that drugs donated to Floyd’s death and the crowd gathered in the scene distracted the police from discovering the harshness of Floyd’s state. When asked to respond to then-hypothetical criticism that Chauvin couldn’t have obtained a fair trial given the large degree of pretrial publicity, Mitchell issued a response that had little to do with determining the case based on contested points of legislation (e.g., causation) instead of emotion:
I think that’s just completely ridiculous, simply because, um, when you’re in the courtroom, and you are there, and you are a human being and you are watching somebody expire to a day to day basis, the tension and the psychological draining, along with the emotional — the psychological drainage that causes, um, you really don’t think about anything going on out there. You are now engulfed in — in watching these videos and hearing this distress and this pain. Um, you have compassion for this person that’s on — that’s on those videos. You are feeling for them. You are not necessarily thinking about, uh, you knowthe consequences of what might happen, you understand, oh — if you go this way, should you go that way — you are not thinking about that as you are watching someone die each and every day. That’s what you are watching. I mean — you feel for that. You feel for that. You only want to do what is right at that point.
The legal area is divided regarding whether Mitchell’s attendance in the rally along with his subsequent wearing of this t-shirt posture the”Obtain Your Knee Off Our Necks” motto is enough to lead to a victory for Chauvin — presuming his attorneys raise the issue.
Under the Sixth Amendment, defendants have a constitutional right to be tried by an”impartial jury.” A collection of U.S. Supreme Court cases have sometimes pondered the parameters of what”impartiality” means.
“It is a frame of mind. For the ascertainment of the psychological attitude of appropriate indifference, the Constitution lays down no particular tests and procedure isn’t chained to some historical and artificial formula.” If that’s the scenario, the Court maintained that government workers weren’t, from the character of their occupation, inherently biased in the direction of the government prosecutor’s arguments in trial.
That Court explained:
The”routine of deep and bitter prejudice” demonstrated to be present throughout the community… was clearly reflected in the amount total of this voir dire examination of a majority of the jurors finally set in the jury box. Eight out of the 12 believed petitioner was guilty. With such an opinion permeating his minds, it would be tricky to say that each can exclude this preconception of guilt from his deliberations. The effect that lurks within an opinion once formed is so consistent that it automatically combats detachment from the psychological processes of the ordinary person.
Turner v. Louisiana (1965) subsequently quoted Dowd positively while flipping another conviction. Prosecutors secured the conviction in issue during the testimony of two sheriff’s deputies that were tasked with guarding and hauling the sequestered jury that was empaneled to estimate that exact same testimony. The deputies both mingled together and publicly conversed with the jurors while they were off the stand, along with also the trial judge could hear nothing of their defense’s complaints.
The requirement that a jury’s determination should be based upon the evidence developed in the trial goes to the fundamental ethics of all that is embraced in the constitutional notion of trial by jury.
[ … ]
Basically, the right to jury trial guarantees to the criminally accused a reasonable trial by a panel of impartial, indifferent jurors. The failure to accord an accused a reasonable hearing violates even the minimal standards of due procedure. A fair trial in a reasonable tribunal is a basic requirement of due procedure.
[ … ]
At the constitutional sense, trial by jury in a criminal case necessarily implies at the very least the evidence generated from a defendant shall come from the witness stand in a public courtroom where there is full judicial protection of the defendant’s right of confrontation, of cross-examination, as well as counsel. What occurred in this case operated to subvert these fundamental guarantees of trial by jury.
More recently, in Smith v. Phillips (1982), the court bemoaned”the individual propensity for self-justification” while suggesting that jurors themselves can’t be trusted to correctly tell their whole stories in a prejudice. The court reasserted in Smith that hearings are essential to ferret out actual juror bias.
At issue in Smith was if a juror’s entry of a job application to the prosecutor’s office produced a bias so strong a conviction ought to be reversed. The Court held as the above language foretold — that it did not. The court refused to grant a convicted criminal any relief:
Were that the principle, few trials are constitutionally acceptable. The defenses of juror impartiality, including voir dire and protective instructions from the trial judge, aren’t infallible; it’s practically impossible to shield jurors from every contact or influence that might theoretically affect their vote. Such determinations may properly be made at a hearing loss.
The Minnesota Supreme Court in 2007 took considerable time in a footnote explaining the gap between actual bias and implied bias in a situation which included a”racially biased” juror. (Implied bias is”considered as a matter of law” due to, e.g., an immediate conflict of interest or a relative between a juror and a suspect.)
It seems legally possible a hearing on the subject of why Brandon Mitchell’s conduct is impending, yet many criminal defense attorneys who appear frequently as guests or hosts within the Law&Crime Network seemed to indicate a win for Chauvin seems improbable.
Defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden reported in the initial voir dire question limited its reach to protests”in Minneapolis.” Thus, Mitchell’s proffered answer,”no,” was totally decent — since the gathering now drawing attention occurred in D.C.
The second voir dire question, she stated, might require a bit further afield, given the D.C. rally most topics.
Overall, the photo and the subsequent uproar”can make juror appear neater, and the estimate isn’t going to be more pleased,” Kenney Baden stated. “But, in my estimation, it won’t overturn the verdict.”
New York City public defender Brian Buckmire agreed that the more factual investigation was necessary.
“He [Mitchell] describes that he attended as one for voting rights, however he was conscious of the others hinting George Floyd,” Buckmire stated. “As someone who has attended protests, I am surprised in [a] huge demonstration that people showed up for one trigger while there had been 20 other causes there. I don’t find that as a lie.”
Generally , though, Buckmire indicated the case law cited above implies Chauvin’s defense could”have to find something HUGE to overturn” the verdict according to jury bias — like the Dowd situation in which eight of the twelve jurors were biased against the nation.
Buckmire was concerned that Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, didn’t probe Mitchell correctly.
Buckmire viewed as the greatest question any follow-up hearing or litigation should answer. Afterward, it should examine what queries Nelson asked; if Nelson had challenges left that could have been used to attack the juror; and if the”top benchmark to subdue the conviction” was met in this instance.
In certain countries, such as New York, attorneys need to exhaust all their peremptory challenges before they can appeal a question between jury bias, Buckmire noted.
Former New Jersey county prosecutor and present criminal defense attorney Bob Bianchi known as the development”quite serious and troubling” since the juror wore a t-shirt which resisted the action of the suspect that juror was finally called to estimate:
The prosecution already has a lot of work to do to convince an appeals court that not changing venue, not sequestering jurors, acquiring a civil compensation in the center of jury decision, having jurors being subjected to another incident that ignited protests during the trial, along with a important medical/blood gas record being withheld all did not affect the jurors’ decisions in Chauvin’s situation. But, these disagreements were somewhat insecure till now.
This advancement with this juror is a lot more concrete, and on an issue of importance — bias against the police, and Chauvin in particular. When combined with other debatable issues as to how this situation was handled, it could have a cumulative impact of convincing an appellate court the conviction of Chauvin ought to be reversed.
The queries to the jurors were especially tailored to churn out prejudice. They were specifically asked about demonstrations attended, BLM, and remarks formed regarding the case. The court frequently repeated that it wasn’t any reason to disbelieve the juror answers. Now, however, there is reason to believe that a juror, who went to a demonstration wearing a tee shirt that especially condemned the defendant’s actions, was not true when these issues were addressed by the court.
Bianchi then raised several devious what-ifs:
During this trial I have been concerned about many issues concerning the defendant’s right to get a reasonable trial. No person ought to be . I frequently explained in the press which as a prosecutor, I not won the situation at trial but also on appeal, too.
This development should result in the courtroom calling the juror into seek an explanation of their important and significant discrepancies between his statements to the courtroom during jury decision versus what is presently being unearthed. I wonder, whether such an inquiry happens, if the juror might refuse to answer the court’s questions by claiming his 5th Amendment right to remain silent — since his statements to the courtroom in jury decision were made under oath.
If that were to occur, then the Derek Chauvin conviction could be a throw up on appeal.
“A complicated street for the defense,” explained New Jersey criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Mike Koribanics. “All of us have our own beliefs and feelings. As a juror you have to answer honestly the question: Can you place your personal beliefs aside and decide the case based on the evidence introduced? The defense, in my perception, would have to demonstrate that those personal beliefs were put forth through deliberations and affected the verdict.”
“You may have heard things about the situation… it’s alright to get read about it. It’s difficult to avoid. It’s alright to even form opinions based on what you have seen and heard. However, as a juror, you have to put all that aside. Pick this evidence only the evidence you hear in the courtroom. Basically, be a blank background, and use the law as I give it to you. Do you feel you could do that?”
“For certain,” Mitchell stated.
See Mitchell’s complete voir dire under:
[Picture via the Law&Crime Network.]
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