Some members of the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, including county attorney Mike Freeman, cannot serve as prosecutors when the cases against the four former Minneapolis police officer who are charged in George Floyd's death go to trial.
On Friday, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill during a pre-trial hearing on several motions related to the trial ordered that members of the Hennepin County Attorney's Office cannot serve as prosecutors on the case because they could be called as witnesses to testify about the meeting they had with Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker.
Cahill asked Prosecutor Matthew Frank of the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, who is leading the prosecution against Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, if he planned on having members of the county attorney's office at the table with him at trial.
When Frank said he hadn't decided, Cahill said, "Well I have. They're disqualified," according to tweets from KARE 11's Lou Raguse.
Cahill proceeded to say "it was sloppy" to have members of the attorney's office present when they interviewed the medical examiner, noting they're now witnesses who can be called by the defense or prosecution during the trial, WCCO's Esme Murphy said.
The judge only disqualified some members of the attorney's office, other attorneys and staff are not disqualified from the case, KSTP reports.
The judge's decision is in response to a motion Chauvin's attorney filed last month seeking to disqualify the county attorney's office from prosecuting or participating in the prosecution of Chauvin. The motion said "The only way for this Court to guarantee a fair proceeding without the taint of prosecutorial misconduct is to disqualify the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office from this matter."
According to the motion, Freeman and his assistant attorneys interviewed the medical examiner regarding his autopsy of George Floyd without having a non-attorney witness present, which is required by law.