The trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer convicted of killing suspect George Floyd during an arrest, ended in a guilty verdict on all three murder counts. However, the threats from outside the courtroom may have handed the defense grounds for appeal.
Alan Dershowitz said Tuesday that Chauvin’s conviction wouldn’t stand a chance of being upheld on appeal, Breitbart reported. The well-known attorney and Harvard Law School professor emeritus cited “outside influences” that may have tainted the jury.
One of those influences was Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) who showed up in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota to cheer on protesters gathered to protest another police shooting. She told the crowd to “get more confrontational” if they didn’t get a guilty verdict.
“What was done to George Floyd by Officer Chauvin was inexcusable, morally. But the verdict is very questionable, because of the outside influences of people like Al Sharpton, and people like Maxine Waters,” Dershowitz told Newsmax.
“Their threats and intimidation, and hanging the sword of Damocles over the jury, and basically saying if you don’t convict on the murder charge, on all the charges, the cities will burn, the country will be destroyed, seeped into the jury room because the judge made a terrible mistake by not sequestering the jury,” he continued. Dershowitz pointed out that even the “judge himself” knew Waters’ comments were a problem.
He went on to say that the American Civil Liberties Union would “be all over the case” if it weren’t for the racial component. “Every juror in that room knew about those threats,” Dershowitz said. “And when they sit and deliberate, they have to be saying to themselves, consciously or unconsciously, if I were to render a verdict other than a murder verdict, what the consequences will be, for me, and my family, my friends, my business.”
Dershowitz said that should feeling should never be permitted to permeate a jury’s thought process. “So I have no real confidence that this verdict — which may be correct in some ways — but I have no confidence that this verdict was produced by due process and the rule of law, rather than the influence of the crowd.”
Whether or not the jury came to the right conclusion in this case, there’s no doubt a guilty verdict was a foregone conclusion for many. The jury walked in there having experienced months of rioting in their backyards knowing what would come from a not guilty verdict would be exponentially worse. Add to that Waters’ comments and it could be a surefire way to overturn a verdict.