Prosecutors urge Minnesota Supreme Court to reject appeal by ex-officer in George Floyd's murder

State prosecutors have urged the Minnesota Supreme Court to reject former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin’s request to reconsider his conviction for murdering George Floyd, saying lower courts already got it right

Steve Karnowski
Wednesday 07 June 2023 22:52 BST
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Louise Thomas

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State prosecutors have urged the Minnesota Supreme Court to reject former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin’s request to reconsider his conviction for murdering George Floyd, saying lower courts already got it right.

Chauvin's attorney asked the state's highest court last month to hear the case after the Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected his arguments that he had been denied a fair trial. A three-judge panel in April affirmed his conviction for second-degree murder and his 22 1/2-year sentence. In a response filed Tuesday, the attorney general's office asked the Supreme Court to let that ruling stand.

“Petitioner received a fair trial, and received the benefit of a fulsome appellate review,” prosecutors wrote. "It is time to bring this case to a close.”

Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, kneeled on the unarmed Black man’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes. A bystander video captured Floyd’s fading cries of “I can’t breathe.” Floyd’s death touched off protests around the world, some of which turned violent, and forced a national reckoning with police brutality and racism that is still playing out.

Defense attorney William Morhman unsuccessfully asked the Court of Appeals to throw out the ex-officer’s conviction for a long list of reasons, including the trial judge's decision not to move the proceedings out of Minneapolis despite massive pretrial publicity, and the potential prejudicial effects of unprecedented courthouse security.

Another issue was the revelation after Chauvin's trial that one juror participated in a civil rights event commemorating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington a few months after Floyd’s death. Chauvin raised several of those arguments again in his latest appeal.

Prosecutors urged the Supreme Court not to give Chauvin a “do-over,” saying he received “one of the most thorough and transparent criminal proceedings in the history of this nation.”

The Minnesota Supreme Court could agree to hear Chauvin’s appeal. If so, it would ask each side for detailed briefs and later set a date for oral arguments. Or it could let the Court of Appeals ruling stand as the final word.

After his conviction on the state charge, Chauvin pleaded guilty to a separate federal civil rights charge and was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison, which he is serving in Arizona concurrent with his state sentence.

Three other former officers who assisted Chauvin at the scene — a convenience store where Floyd tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill — are serving shorter sentences for their roles in the case.

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