Dershowitz: Derek Chauvin Conviction Should Be Reversed on Appeal
Renowned defense attorney and Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said Tuesday that the conviction of former Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd should be overturned on appeal because of the public intimidation of the jury and the judge’s refusal to sequester the jury.
Dershowitz noted the “outside influence” of people like Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who encouraged unrest at a protest on Saturday night in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, if there was no murder conviction in the case.
Chauvin was convicted Tuesday of all of the charges in the case — second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
Dershowitz told Newsmax:
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. 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. So the judge himself said, this case may be reversed on appeal. And I think it might reversed on appeal. I think it should be reversed on appeal. I think the American Civil Liberties Union, which would be all over this case if it weren’t a racially-charged case, all Americans who care about due process and liberty should be concerned that the jury verdict may have been influenced by, if not the thumb, maybe even the elbow of the outside pressures, the fears, the threats. Every juror in that room knew about those threats. 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. That should never, ever, bellowed to seep into a jury room. 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.
Dershowitz said that after exhausting appeals at the state level, the case “will go to the United States Supreme Court,” which held the “best possibility” of overturning the conviction, based on the judge’s own reaction to Waters’s comments.
He said that President Joe Biden was not wrong, legally, to comment on the case Tuesday once the jury had been sequestered, though there was a risk in raising expectations of a conviction, in the event that Chauvin had been acquitted.
Later, in remarks to the nation, President Biden appeared to endorse the pressure placed on the jury: “For so many, it feels like it took all of that for the judicial system to deliver a just — just basic accountability.”