MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The announcement of an historic settlement could have far-reaching impacts on the trial of a fired Minneapolis police officer.
The city announced Friday it was paying George Floyd’s family a record $27 million.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called it a milestone. The city council unanimously approved the settlement.
Announcing the settlement in the middle of jury selection for the murder trial of Derek Chauvin confused legal experts.
“It was absolutely terrible timing, I would say for both sides,” said Mary Moriarty, the former chief public defender in Hennepin County.
Prospective jurors in the trial can still be questioned about their thoughts on the settlement, but Moriarty says no one knows how the news will affect the seven already seated.
“Most jurors I think would perceive [the settlement] as the city’s belief that Chauvin did murder George Floyd and that they are liable,” Moriarty said.
It’s assumed that it’d be very difficult to insulate any jury from hearing about the settlement.
Joe Tamburino, a criminal defense attorney not affiliated with the case, lays out some options Chauvin’s team has.
“They could make a motion for a mistrial based on an argument that there was some influence on a jury,” he said. “They could make a motion to change venue. They could also ask to have the seven jurors who have been picked so far to come back and be re-questioned.”
We reached out to the city of Minneapolis to ask why the settlement was announced before the trial’s concluded.
A spokesperson referred us to something City Attorney Jim Rowader said Friday at the press conference announcing the settlement.
“We’re trying to be very respectful of the criminal proceedings that are now underway and we’re in the middle of jury selection,” Rowader said. “I think it would be very wise for all of us to refrain from commenting on something that’s ongoing.”
Chris Stewart, an attorney for George Floyd’s family, said they weren’t going to delay justice in the civil suit waiting for the outcome in the criminal trial.
Moriarty says news of the settlement being out there could become an issue in a potential appeal, which is something the state wants to avoid.
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