MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The defense teams for fired Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are requesting the court’s gag order be lifted.
On Monday, attorneys for the four officers charged in George Floyd’s death filed objections to the gag order, issued on July 9, and asked for it to be vacated.
Both Chauvin’s and Thao’s attorneys argue that their clients did not speak to the media and that the gag order is depriving them of their rights to free speech and a public trial.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, also blasted media coverage and statements from popular figures, saying they led to an “overwhelming pretrial publicity damning Mr. Chauvin.” Nelson listed numerous instances where George Floyd’s death was called a “murder” and criticized how Attorney General Keith Ellison has handled the case.
“For more than a month, the press, popular figures, high ranking politicians, and the attorney leading this prosecution—as well as his city councilman son—have all rendered their verdicts in this case publicly and on the most public stages possible. And they have all deemed the Defendant guilty,” Nelson said.
Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, argued that nothing the defense said warrants the gag order, including the memorandum filed in an effort to get Lane’s charges dismissed last week.
“The memorandum filed was supported by exhibits provided to us by the State. Defense counsel, because the videos were not public at the time of the interviews, attempted to explain the dismissal motion and the exhibits as it was grossly unfair to hold back the videos and only allow the reading of the transcripts of the videos,” Gray’s motion to lift gag order read.
Gray continues by saying anything that the defense said “could barely remedy” all the prejudicial publicity that Chauvin’s attorney listed in his objection memorandum.
Last week, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill issued a gag order in the George Floyd case. It means all parties — officers, attorneys and anyone involved in the case — are ordered not to talk about the case or disclose evidence.
In the gag order, the court says “continuing pretrial publicity in this case by the attorneys involved will increase the risk of tainting a potential jury pool and will impair all parties’ right to a fair trial.”
It happened a day after the attorney for Lane filed a request to dismiss charges against his client.