Derek Chauvin's attorney objects to gag order in George Floyd case

The attorney argues that it's unfair for Chauvin to be gagged even though he has not commented publicly on the case.
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Derek Chauvin

The attorney for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has objected to a gag order issued by a judge preventing the parties in the George Floyd murder case speaking out publicly.

The order was made last week, following comments made in the media by, among others, the attorney for ex-officer Thomas Lane as he called for the 2nd-degree aiding and abetting murder charge against his client to be dismissed.

Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill issued the gag order as a result, saying such statements could prejudice a fair trial, but an objection has now been filed by Eric Nelson, the attorney for Chauvin, who is charged with 2nd-degree murder in Floyd's killing on Memorial Day.

In his argument, Nelson says a gag order for defendants and their attorneys ahead of the trial involving the four former officers should be seen in the context of the comments made regarding the case by state and national leaders.

This includes Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who has described Floyd's killing as "murder" even though it has not yet been proved in court, with the likes of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, and even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell named in the court filing as having also called Floyd's death "murder."

Others mentioned in the filing as having commented publicly on the case include President Donald Trump, who said of the video showing Floyd's death: "It doesn’t get any more obvious or it doesn’t get any worse than that," and Gov. Tim Walz for having said Floyd's "humanity was taken away from him."

There was even a mention of Jon Bon Jovi, for having "already written, recorded, and released for download, a song about the death of George Floyd, which is referred to as 'a murder' in publicity surrounding the song’s release."

Attorney General Keith Ellison also makes the filing, having said he wouldn't have pursued a prosecution if he didn't think the officers involved to be guilty, while his son, Minneapolis City Councilman Jeremiah Ellison, has said "I think it was murder."

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Attorney argues order is unfair on Chauvin

"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," Nelson writes.

"And they have all deemed the Defendant guilty. On the other hand, one would be hard pressed to locate any pretrial publicity referring extensively to Mr. Chauvin’s innocence until proven guilty or that his alleged actions were justifiable in the line of his duties as a Minneapolis Police Officer and a licensed peace officer in the State of Minnesota – certainly not in national or global media, and certainly not in proportion to reports and opinions to the contrary.

"In fact, unlike Mr. Chauvin’s codefendants and their attorneys, neither Mr. Chauvin nor his counsel have spoken publicly about this case outside the courtroom.

"Yet, in light of the overwhelming pretrial publicity damning Mr. Chauvin —likely more publicity than any court in this state has seen in a very long time, if ever—this Court’s response to an interview given by another attorney in another case was to restrict Mr. Chauvin’s right to speak freely on any subject – without cause, notice or hearing. 

"There is absolutely no reason that Mr. Chauvin’s case or counsel should be treated the same as those of his codefendants. His counsel has not spoken to the media, he is facing a different set of charges, and his rights were not addressed by the Court when it issued the gag order."

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