By John Kruzel
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of his conviction for the murder of George Floyd during a 2020 arrest, which sparked widespread protests against police brutality and racism.
The justices turned away Chauvin’s appeal that he filed after a Minnesota appellate court upheld his 2021 murder conviction and rejected his request for a new trial. Chauvin had argued that jury bias and certain rulings by the presiding judge deprived him of his right to a fair trial under the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment.
Chauvin, who is white, is serving a 22-1/2 year prison sentence for murdering Floyd, who was Black, by kneeling on a handcuffed Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest.
Floyd’s murder triggered protests in many cities in the United States and in other countries and focused attention on the issue of racial justice.
Chauvin, now 47, was found guilty by a 12-member jury in April 2021 of three charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter following a three-week trial that included testimony from 45 witnesses, including bystanders, police officials and medical experts.
The guilty verdict marked a milestone in the fraught racial history of the United States and a rebuke of law enforcement’s treatment of Black Americans.
In a May 25, 2020, confrontation captured on video by onlookers, Chauvin pushed his knee into the neck of Floyd, 46, while Chauvin and three fellow officers were attempting to arrest Floyd, who was accused of using a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a grocery store.
On appeal in 2022, Chauvin’s lawyer, William Mohrman, argued that Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill made multiple errors.
Because of extensive pre-trial publicity, the judge should have agreed to Chauvin’s motions to move the trial outside Minneapolis and sequester the jury, Mohrman argued.
The judge, Chauvin’s attorneys and prosecutors spent about two weeks questioning potential jurors before seating the 12-member panel.
Chauvin’s attorney urged the Supreme Court to grant the appeal to consider whether jurors had been biased by a desire to avoid the “threat of harm to the community if a guilty verdict was not reached.” His attorney also said one juror may have concealed possible bias by failing to disclose during the jury selection process that he had attended “an anti-police ‘George Floyd’ rally.”
Attorneys for Minnesota did not respond to Chauvin’s petition asking the Supreme Court to hear his appeal.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals in April rebuffed Chauvin’s appeal, upholding his conviction and rejecting his request for a new trial. Minnesota’s top court in July denied Chauvin’s request to review the case, prompting his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Separately, Chauvin in December 2021 pleaded guilty in federal court to charges that he violated Floyd’s civil rights. Chauvin on Nov. 13 filed a motion seeking to overturn that conviction based on what he claims is new evidence showing that Floyd’s death resulted from an underlying medical condition.
(Reporting by John Kruzel; Editing by Will Dunham)
Amanda Smith is a dedicated U.S. correspondent with a passion for uncovering the stories that shape the nation. With a background in political science, she provides in-depth analysis and insightful commentary on domestic affairs, ensuring readers are well-informed about the latest developments across the United States.