Dershowitz: It’s a ‘serious constitutional mistake’ for judge to refuse change of venue for trial of Derek Chauvin

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – During a recent appearance on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle”, Harvard Law School Emeritus Professor Alan Dershowitz suggested that the case judge’s decision to not entertain a change of venue in the trial of Derek Chauvin is a “serious constitutional mistake”.

On March 19th, Judge Peter Cahill made some key rulings with respect to the trial of Derek Chauvin. Outside of Judge Cahill only allowing very limited details to be shared during the trial regarding George Floyd’s May, 2019 arrest, he also denied the defense’s request delay the trial and change the venue.

According to Professor Dershowitz, this action taken by Judge Cahill dangerously flirts with constitutional violations for Chauvin:

“It’s a serious constitutional mistake. The judge is focusing on the wrong issue: The issue of prejudice.”

“What he should be focusing on is that jurors are going to be frightened that if they render an acquittal or they fail to convict on murder there may be violence. Their own homes, their own stores, their own family may be affected.”

It’s an interesting point brought up by the law professor with regard to the case.

As just about any reasonable person could deduce, when it comes to Chauvin’s trial, there’s likely not a single person in the U.S. eligible and fit for jury duty that doesn’t know about this case and the details surrounding it.

Whether someone was wandering around the Florida Keys or Anchorage, Alaska – one would be hard pressed to bump into someone who’d be completely oblivious as to who is George Floyd or Derek Chauvin.

What Professor Dershowitz noted in his concerns over a change of venue not being entertained in the trial is that potential jurors in Minneapolis could be legitimately concerned that if presented with evidence supporting a “not guilty” verdict, they may also be afraid of rendering that verdict:

“Not only is the thumb on the scale, but the elbow is on the scale. No juror should have to worry that if they acquit there will be consequences to them outside of the courtroom. That’s why this trial should be held in a rural area, far away from where there may be violence.”

“It should be put off several months, and everything that the defendant might have known about the victim should be known to the jury. You have to see this case through the prism — through the eyes of the defendant. If the defendant knew that [Floyd] was violent, if he knew he took drugs, then it’s admissible. If he didn’t know it, then it comes in on a different theory.”

During the segment on “The Ingraham Angle”, Professor Dershowitz also detailed – if this were his case to defend in the courtroom – how the defense should approach the case during trial:

“My defense would be this: Number one, the knee on the neck — although we now know it was wrong — was [police] policy in Minneapolis.”

“Not only that, it was used dozens of times and nobody ever died. Why did this person die? The defense would be, not because of the knee on the neck, but because of his preexisting conditions, his high blood pressure, his drugs in the body.”

“That was the proximate cause and the best proof of that is the knee on the neck had been used in the past without any fatalities.”

When it comes to this case, no matter the verdict rendered upon the completion of the trial, there’s going to be issues that arise with the fallout. There are simply no easy answers or solutions to the present controversy of the case, or the ramifications that’ll crop up once the trial comes to an end.

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Back in February, we at Law Enforcement Today shared a report showcasing that Chauvin had at one time been offered a plea deal back in 2020 with regard to the case – and was even ready to accept it. 

However, the deal was reportedly pulled by former AG Bill Barr. 

Here is the background on that aspect of the case. 

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Some interesting new details have come to light regarding the case against former police officer Derek Chauvin, as there was once reportedly a plea deal offered to him days after the death of George Floyd.

And apparently, former AG Bill Barr was the person to have stopped the plea bargain from going through.

Here’s the details on this latest development.

By now, most everyone is familiar with the case lodged against Chauvin as he has been charged in connection with the in-custody death of Floyd from back in May of 2020. Currently, Chauvin is facing charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Yet, just days after the death of Floyd, there was reportedly a plea bargain offered to Chauvin for third-degree murder – which Chauvin was reportedly willing to agree to.

Said plea bargain would have seen Chauvin serve a decade or more behind bars for the death of Floyd, which officials were in the process to rally up the press and announce that Chauvin had agreed to plead guilty.

But in order for the deal to go through, it would’ve had to have gotten the greenlight from then-AG Bill Barr, which Barr at the time said to pull the deal.

The reason Barr needed to approve the deal was that said deal would’ve seen Chauvin serve his sentence in federal prison.

The reported rationale for Barr’s decision was multifaceted, according to reports, with Barr at the time expressing concerns that a plea deal for third-degree murder would seem too lenient and that the investigation into the incident was far too early to begin entertaining potential plea bargains.

Furthermore, Barr was also said to have noted that the case was about to fall into the hands of state prosecutors who he felt would be best suited how to handle the case moving forward.

Chauvin’s trial is slated to begin on March 8th, but the scheduled trial itself is also causing concerns about the potential for unrest within the city of Minneapolis.

There are already reports coming in that employees in various downtown businesses are being told to not come in to work during the period of the trial, due to concerns over safety. Not to mention, reports of the National Guard being deployed to the area during the trial have also surfaced.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz was said to have added into his recent budget proposal a special $4.2 million allocation for security needed during the trial and a $35 million fund to reimburse local law enforcement agencies that may get called in to assist with any potential rioting during the trial.

With as contentious as this case and investigation has been, one could hardly contend with the concept that the trial of Chauvin – no matter the outcome – is going to be a magnet for varying degrees of protests and unrest.

Paul Butler, a former prosecutor who is a professor at Georgetown University, says that this case is hallmarked with being, “the most famous police brutality prosecution in the history of the United States.”

Considering what occurred in the wake of Floyd’s death, one would be hard to disagree with Butler’s notion.

Recently, Judge Peter A. Cahill had ordered that the trial of Chauvin be separate from the other three officers’ trials in connection with Floyd’s death, which the prosecution is actively trying to get that decision appealed.

But what has drawn the most concern over this trial is if Chauvin manages to be found not guilty, which could then set into motion a domino effect of riots akin to – or even worse than – the ones Minneapolis and several other major U.S. cities saw back in the summer of 2020.

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