MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Lawyers for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin are asking to delay his trial.

Chauvin is charged in George Floyd’s death.

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His defense team thinks he can’t get a fair trial after news broke late last week of a $27 million settlement between Minneapolis and Floyd’s family.

The judge was sympathetic to the defense’s concerns and said he will evaluate and make a ruling on the most significant defense motions: the request that the trial be delayed and the motion that it be moved out of Minneapolis.

“I am gravely concerned with the news that broke on Friday,” defense attorney Eric Nelson said.

Nelson said Friday’s news conference announcing the city council’s unanimous $27 million settlement with Floyd’s family is just the latest example of negative pretrial publicity he and his client have faced.

“Ultimately, the goal of this system is to provide a fair trial and this is not fair,” Nelson said. “The ‘unanimous’ decision of the city council, for example, it goes straight to the heart of the dangers of pretrial publicity.”

Judge Peter Cahill agreed that the publicity is a problem, calling it unfortunate.

“The defense has a legitimate concern,” Cahill said. “I wish people would, city officials would stop talking about this case.”

As a result, the defense filed the following motions:

  • A continuance or postponement of the case
  • A change of venue out of Minneapolis”
  • To have the seven jurors seated before the settlement brought back and re-questioned
  • To have jurors sequestered, which means put up in a hotel for the entire trial which is expected to take around four weeks

The judge said he would take those motions under advisement.

The prosecution downplayed the impact of the settlement, saying they had nothing to do with it and that prospective jurors probably didn’t hear about it

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“The jurors we questioned don’t pay as much attention to us as we think they do,” Steve Schleicher said. “I don’t even know which way that cuts, if that cuts for us, if that cuts against us.”

“The problem is that it cuts,” Cahill said.

The very next juror was eliminated after she said she inadvertently did hear about it on the radio.

“When I heard that I almost gasped, the amount,” she said.

Still, the eighth and ninth jurors were chosen for the panel Monday.

Juror eight is a Black man in his 30s who is a banker and a youth sports coach. He said he had a neutral view of both Chauvin and Floyd and feels that discrimination is a widespread problem.

Juror nine is a white woman in her 50s who is an executive assistant at a health clinic. She said she has a somewhat negative view of both Chauvin and Black Lives Matter.

“All lives matter to me, it doesn’t matter who they are or what they are, they all matter because we are all important in this world,” she said.

Of the nine jurors seated, four are people of color. Fourteen jurors, including two alternates, will be chosen.

It’s not clear when the judge will rule on the motions to postpone the trial and for change of venue will be made. Testimony in the case is expected to still begin on March 29.

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The judge did say he would call back the seven jurors chosen earlier and re-question them.

Esme Murphy