PICKART: Jury selection in Derek Chauvin trial will be difficult

Juror+selection+for+Derek+Chauvin+case+began+March+9.+Photo+via+Flickr.+

Juror selection for Derek Chauvin case began March 9. Photo via Flickr.

The jury selection in former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial, who murdered George Floyd, began March 9. It is set to be an extremely complex, difficult and lengthy process.

Two main factors play a major role in the difficulty of jury selection for this trail: the inability to select a completely unbiased jury due to the video circulation of the murder and Chauvin’s team’s selection, or lack of selection of jurors, based on the subject of race.

It is important to highlight the charges Chauvin faces in the killing of Floyd in May 2020. Chauvin, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, faces second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter charges, as well as third-degree murder, which was reinstated March 11.

Jury selection began by all potential jurors filling out a 14-page questionnaire form, in which jurors were to identify in detail what knowledge they had of Floyd’s death, where they got their news sources, if they participated in any form of protest and their impressions of both Floyd and Chauvin among other questions. 

The video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck has already proved to be an influential aspect of the jury selection, as even after potential jurors were dismissed due to bias present on the forms, several other potential jurors still noted that they formed personal opinions of what happened and their impressions of Chauvin

Even after filling out the forms, two potential jurors were dismissed, as they both explained that they could not unsee the video. Chauvin’s defense team dismissed them both. 

This trend continued, as other potential jurors also explained the effect of the video on their opinions.

Thus, it is clear that the video, regardless of perception, has already played a significant role in selecting the jury and will most likely continue to contribute to the trial. 

The video was gruesome and extremely disturbing. Words cannot fully describe the atrocity and crime done in the video. It is one that deserves to be acknowledged and used as evidence against Chauvin in the trial.

The image of Chauvin carelessly kneeling on Floyd’s neck with his hands in his pockets is one that should not be taken lightly. The video alone should be enough evidence to charge Chauvin with the murder of George Floyd.

Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. It’s that simple.

In addition to the circulation of the murder, the subject of race was brought up by the prosecution in the jury selection process of Chauvin’s defense team. 

On the first day of the jury selection process March 9, the defense challenged two jurors, both of whom are Hispanic, prompting the defense to cite concerns to Judge Peter Cahill. 

Cahill further explained that due to one of the juror’s lack of English fluency, concerns about the woman’s fluency in English were valid. In addition, the second juror ultimately explained that his experience in martial arts enabled him to see Chauvin’s use of his knee illegal and he was unwilling to change that belief. Again, Cahill said it was a completely fair dismissal.

Nonetheless, it is fair to suspect that the subject of race will be brought up frequently, as Chauvin is white and Floyd was Black. 

Though concerns on the subject of race were raised in court, Cahill explained that he believed the decision of the defense to strike the two jurors down was race neutral, meaning race did not play a role in the dismissal.

A total of seven jurors have been selected so far, four of who are white, one who is multiracial, one who is Hispanic and the last one who is Black. However, after the announcement of a $27 million settlement in George Floyd’s death, all seven jurors will be further questioned and the process could be further delayed. 

Throughout the jury selection process, Cahill should be aware of this and identify any discriminations based on race or ethnicity. It is essential for the trial that each potential juror is given equal opportunity to be confirmed as a juror.

The remainder of the jury selection in the Chauvin trial, which is set to begin March 29, will have its difficulties and challenges; However, it is important for the legitimacy of the trial, that a jury panel is one that is mostly unbiased and free of any discriminations based on race, gender or ethnicity. 

The late George Floyd and his family deserve a just, legitimate trial against Derek Chauvin who took his life. 

This story was written by Max Pickart. He can be reached at max.pickart@marquette.edu