The judge who oversaw the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted in April of murdering George Floyd, will make public next week the names of 15 jurors and alternates.
In signing his order Monday, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said the written questionnaires of all 109 potential jurors who were formally evaluated, as well as the verdict form signed by the jury foreperson, will also be made public by Nov. 1, Fox 9 Minneapolis reported.
“On the present record, this Court cannot assay any strong reason to believe the jurors continue to need protection from any external threats to their safety at this point, four months after this Court’s sentencing of Chauvin, or that there is a substantial likelihood that making the prospective and impaneled jurors’ names public information will interfere with the fair and impartial administration of justice,” Cahill wrote.
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Though the judge did also acknowledge the jurors were called upon to carry out their duties in a case that “played out on a stage of unprecedented public interest and press coverage in wake of tremendous social upheaval and civic unrest” in Minneapolis and beyond.
This decision comes after Chauvin filed an appeal with a Minnesota appellate court last month, pointing to 14 issues with the prosecution, including the court’s decision not to change the venue of the trial or sequester the jury. The filing challenges the court allowing prosecutors to add a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin, as the Minnesota Supreme Court last month reversed the third-degree murder conviction of Mohamed Noor, another former Minneapolis police officer, who in 2017 fatally shot an unarmed woman after she called 911 to report a possible rape happening behind her home. Chauvin is now representing himself, noting in the filing that he is unable to afford an attorney for the appeal.
Chauvin, who is White, was convicted in April of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd, who is Black, which sparked nationwide protests and riots. He was sentenced to 22 1/2 years for kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes as he said he couldn’t breathe. He had 90 days after his June 25 sentencing to file an appeal.
Cahill initially kept the names of the jurors sealed, citing the high-profile nature of the case, and had ordered that their identities remain secret for at least 180 days after the verdict.
A media coalition, which includes Fox 9 Minneapolis and The Associated Press, had asked Cahill to release the jurors’ identities, saying the media and public have a right to the information and there was no known threat to juror safety that would warrant keeping their names sealed.
Prosecutors had asked the court to keep the names secret, saying releasing them could subject jurors to harassment and make it harder to seat a jury for the trial of Chauvin’s three codefendants next year. Two Chauvin jurors and one alternate have identified themselves and come forward to tell their stories since the trial, while the remaining 10 jurors and two alternates have not.
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As he remained incarcerated at Minnesota’s maximum-security prison in Oak Park Heights outside of Minneapolis, Chauvin, appearing electronically, pleaded not guilty last month to federal civil rights stemming from his unreasonable use of force against Floyd and a 14-year-old in September 2017. Chauvin is accused of holding his knee on the neck and the upper back of the teenager and beat him with a flashlight.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.