Just moments after the jury got the case against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd, the defense attorney demanded a mistrial be declared because of prejudicial and incendiary comments by Congresswoman Maxine Waters on Saturday night.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson told Judge Peter Cahill that it’s “literally impossible” that the jury hasn’t heard about Congresswoman Waters’s comments.
We discussed in chambers [that] an elected official [Maxine Waters], a United States congressperson was making what I interpreted to be, what I think are reasonably interpreted as to be threats against the sanctity of the jury process. Threatening and intimidating a jury that if there’s not a guilty verdict that there would be further uh, further problems. And given the fact that this jury has not been sequestered it has been my position all along throughout the course of this case that the jury should have been sequestered at the outset. The jury has not been consistently told to stay away from media. There’s a high probability that the majority of this jury has seen the comments and things that have happened along the course of this trial.[…] I move for a mistrial.
Like the wrecking ball she is, Waters told hyped protesters on Saturday night in Brooklyn Center that Chauvin should be found guilty of first-degree murder, though he’s not charged with that. Her lack of clarity about the case didn’t stop the congresswoman from opining to the media members collected around her.
We’re looking for a guilty verdict. … If nothing does not happen then we know that we’ve not only got to stay in this fight but that we’ve got to fight for justice. But I am very hopeful that we’re going to get a verdict – that they say guilty, guilty, guilty! And if we don’t we cannot go away.
“And not just manslaughter?” a reporter asked.
“Oh, not manslaughter,” Waters said with a flick of her hand. “Oh, no, this is guilty of murder! I don’t know if it’s in the first degree, but as far as I’m concerned it’s first-degree murder!”
Rep. Maxine Waters calls for rioters to "stay in the street" and "fight for justice" against police unless Chauvin is declared guilty for murder, not just manslaughter.
"We got to get more confrontational. We got to make sure they know we mean business." pic.twitter.com/YVdV8QHfUM
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) April 18, 2021
When Waters was asked by media “what happens if we don’t get what you just told [sic]? What should the people do, protesters on the street do?” Another reporter clarified the question for her when the 82-year-old had trouble hearing the question asking, “What should protesters do?”
Well, we gotta stay on the street. And we’ve got to get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational. They’ve got to make sure that they know we mean business.
Looting, riots, conflagration apparently are not “active” enough. Torching peoples’ businesses and destroying lives just isn’t “confrontational” enough.
The millionaire south-central LA Congresswoman Maxine Waters, flouting Brooklyn Center’s curfew after riots over the latest death of a man in police custody, basically tossed a lit Molotov cocktail into an extremist crowd, which she had every reasonable expectation to be violent.
And then she left.
Within a couple of hours, two National Guard troops were hit by glass shrapnel when they were shot at in a drive-by shooting.
Nelson complained that the jury would easily be pummeled with messages on their phones, laptops, and even their “favorite Thursday night TV shows.” Nelson didn’t specify but indicated that two recent TV shows talked about the case and placed Chauvin in a bad light.
Indeed, jurors don’t have to watch the news when they can just look outside and see boarded-up buildings, National Guard troops, and the kids’ schools are closed because of civil unrest of the kind Congresswoman Waters was calling for. Jurors have to walk a security gauntlet every day of the trial that makes the courthouse look like Baghdad’s Green Zone.
Waters irresponsibly fanned the flames.
If you’re wondering why rioters feel justified, it’s because U.S. elected officials are using this kind of rhetoric https://t.co/x1gcIAf4dx
— Drew Hernandez (@DrewHLive) April 18, 2021
Waters previously blamed President Trump for “trying to create a civil war” for far, far less than what she did. The New York Post suggested that Waters fails her own impeachment tests and should be “impeached and removed.”
Judge Cahill, anticipating the request for a mistrial, denied it, but said “Congressman Waters could give you something on appeal,” suggesting he could use her incendiary presser in the middle of active, violent protests and riots as an appealable point should Chauvin be convicted.
I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.
Cahill sounded angry over Waters’s actions and rebuked elected officials from the bench, which will mean nothing because most people these days don’t know about rule of law and separation of powers. And we already know Waters doesn’t give a rip because she keeps doing it.
Townhall transcribed his comments:
I’m aware of the media reports. I’m aware that Congresswoman Waters was talking specifically about this trial and about the unacceptability of anything less than a murder conviction and talking about being confrontational, but can you submit the press articles about that.
This goes back to what I’ve been saying from the beginning. I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function.
I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution, to respect the co-equal branch of government.
Their failure to do so I think is abhorrent, but I don’t think it’s prejudiced us with additional material that would prejudice this jury. They have been told not to watch the news. I trust they are following those instructions and that there is not in any way a prejudice to the defendant beyond the articles that were talking specifically about the facts of this case.
A congresswoman’s opinion really doesn’t matter a whole lot. Anyway, so, motion for mistrial is denied.
The judge also confirmed that an alternate juror was dismissed because they lived in Brooklyn Center the scene of many riots and unrest. Another juror also may live there as well.