Jury selection for the high-profile trial of Derek Chauvin — the former Minneapolis cop accused of killing George Floyd — did not begin on Monday as planned.
Hennepin County district judge Peter Cahill ordered potential jurors to be sent home after prosecutors sought to delay the trial.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank asked Cahill to stay jury selection while an appeal on whether Chauvin would face an additional charge of third-degree murder was pending with the Minnesota Supreme Court. Chauvin is already facing second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.
Cahill refused, ruling that jury selection should start on Monday as planned.
Frank then told Cahill that prosecutors would ask the Court of Appeals to rule on whether jury selection can go ahead while the appeal on the additional charge is pending.
Cahill said the court would not be able to start jury selection on Monday until they had an answer from the Court of Appeals, and ordered potential jurors to be sent home, delaying jury selection by at least a day.
The court discussed some motions for the rest of the day while waiting to hear from the Court of Appeals on whether Cahill can proceed with jury selection.
Cahill told the court that jury selection would begin Tuesday at 10 a.m. EST.
"Unless the Court of Appeals tells me otherwise we’re going to keep moving," he said.
Last October, Cahill dismissed the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin, arguing that it did not apply in cases where a defendant’s actions that resulted in a death were directed at a single person. Last month, he rejected prosecutors’ motion to reinstate the charge.
However, a Court of Appeals opinion on Friday asked Cahill to consider restoring the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin based on its precedent in a separate case.
Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson told the court on Monday morning that he planned to file a petition to the Minnesota Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals’ opinion.
Prosecutors then asked Cahill to delay the trial until the review petition had run its course, arguing that they would have to pick jurors without knowing what the final charges against Chauvin were going to be.
Cahill ruled that jury selection should proceed as planned, saying that juries in other trials often have to consider new charges right before deliberations.
Prosecutors then filed a motion asking the Court of Appeals to delay jury selection while the appeal before the Minnesota Supreme Court was pending.
"The State is fully ready to go to trial, but the trial must be conducted in accordance with the rules and the law,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement. “Now that Mr. Chauvin has stated his intention to appeal Friday’s Court of Appeals ruling to the Minnesota Supreme Court, as is his right, the district court does not have jurisdiction to conduct jury selection or hear and rule on other substantive matters in the trial. We have filed motion with the Court of Appeals to ensure that justice is pursued properly.”
A potential delay in the trial could impact the city’s monthslong preparations for potential civil unrest. Protests demanding justice and police reform have already begun in the city.