By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The fate of Derek Chauvin, the man accused of murdering George Floyd, is now in the hands of the jury.

Deliberations can last hours or days. Being sequestered can be a unique and isolating experience.

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That has us wondering, what happens during jury deliberations? Good Question.

After weeks of listening, it’s now time for the jurors in the Chauvin trial to speak up.

“I am certain that you realize that this case is important and serious and therefore deserves your careful consideration,” Judge Peter Cahill said to the jury.

The weight of their decision is one many citizens have felt.

“It’s very intimate. I mean it’s just you guys in this room,” said Rachel Bryant. She served on a jury several years ago in a domestic dispute case, deliberating the charges for about a day and a half.

Did it ever get tense or emotional during deliberations?

“It did, it definitely did because like I said these are people’s lives,” she said.

Is there a specific outline on how those deliberations should start?

“The first thing is selecting a foreperson,” said retired Judge Kevin Burke, who severed for several years in Hennepin County.

A foreperson is one of the 12 jurors who will act like a manager of sorts, helping to keep things orderly. Other than that, there isn’t a specific way to start deliberations.

Did you debate first or did everyone give their personal verdict right off the bat?

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“We debated first,” said Bryant, adding that her jury focused on the details of the charges and key words like “intent.”

“Because we felt like maybe the outcome went one way but was it intentional or not?” she said.

How much evidence can be reviewed again? Burke said a jury can go through it as much as it wants. The Chauvin jury will have a computer to help them quickly review exhibits.

They’ll also be sequestered, meaning they will stay in individual rooms in a hotel with little contact with the outside world. They’ll be escorted to and from the courthouse each day.

Scott Vetsch, a juror in the Mohamed Noor case, described how strict security was during deliberations.

“You gave them your phone in the morning when you got there and they would search you in the morning, every morning,” Vetsch said.

How long is too long for deliberations?

“I don’t know of any judge who would interrupt deliberations to say, ‘You’ve had enough time,’” said Burke.

He also cautions against assuming that a quick verdict will benefit the prosecution.

“I’ve had that happen and I was dead wrong as to what the results were,” Burke said, adding that several days of deliberations doesn’t automatically mean the jury is having reasonable doubts.

During the deliberations, the jury can ask for clarification on aspects of the case.

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That might require calling the judge and attorneys. However, Burke said it is possible they might not get an answer to their question depending on what they’re asking for.

Jeff Wagner