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Justice and the George Floyd trial

 
 
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Fri 2 Apr, 2021 07:21 pm
@oralloy,
Quote:
If so, how do they keep him under control while everyone is standing around waiting for backup to arrive?


According to the testimony of the police lieutenant, an expert with actual experience being a police officer, the neck restraint was unnecessary, dangerous and against training. He testified that he had reviewed all of the tape from body cameras and fixed cameras, and he could see no threat that justified the neck restraint.

That is all I have to go on. As I said, it was damned powerful testimony for the prosecution.
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maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 4 Apr, 2021 08:21 am
There is a discussion on the other thread about whether the threat of unmasking jurors would force them to return a guilty verdict. I don't think I need to comment on how awful this is. I am pretty sure the identities of the jurors will be kept secret in order to prevent any retribution. It is a bad thing if a jury returns a verdict based on threats to their safety or livelihood.

1. The political left (and the protests) have every right to demand a trial. A trial is justice and bringing someone to justice means holding them accountable in a court of law.

2. The political left has no right to demand a verdict. For a guilty verdict, the jury must consider the facts and evidence and find the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. The fact that a jury will often reach a different verdict than a political narrative demands is a good thing. The jury is protected from political influence.

3. There was a point made in the other thread (and on NPR) that the BLM protests have weakened the "blue wall of silence" where police refuse to testify against police. This is obviously a good thing and valid goal of protests.

4. The term "irrefutable" keeps getting thrown around by the political left. It is inappropriate word to use because it puts the burden of proof on the defense. In reality the burden of proof lies on the prosecution on every respect.

The prosecution has to prove every part of the charge in order to win a guilty verdict. If Chauvin wasn't the cause of death, it is not-guilty. If Chauvin was acting according to procedure, it is not guilty. If there were extenuating circumstances that explain Chauvin's actions, it is not guilty.

This is what a fair trial means. The defense gets to make its case. It the job of the defense to poke holes in every part of the prosecution case that it can.

The idea that the verdict of this case is a "foregone conclusion" is ridiculous. This remains a complex case with an uncertain verdict.


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Real Music
 
  3  
Reply Sun 4 Apr, 2021 12:51 pm
What to Expect in the Derek Chauvin Murder Trial.


Angelina Chapin 5 days ago


Quote:
As the trial against the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd began Monday, the horrible facts of the incident were etched into many Americans’ minds. In May 2020, a video captured the last nine minutes of Floyd’s life, as he repeatedly gasped “I can’t breathe” while Derek Chauvin, a white cop, knelt on his neck. Floyd, a Black man, was arrested after allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill to pay for cigarettes. The tragedy sparked nationwide protests in more than 150 U.S. cities and has given rise to the biggest racial-justice movement in the U.S. since the 1960s. Chauvin’s trial is the highest-profile police brutality case since 1991, when four cops were charged with excessive use of force after beating Black motorist Rodney King. Floyd’s murder came on the heels of police killings of other Black people, such as Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, and Rayshard Brooks, and activists want the trial to provide some long-overdue accountability for state-sanctioned racial violence. A few hundred people gathered outside the courthouse Monday evening, shouting “Say his name!” and wearing shirts with Floyd’s face. Historically, cases involving police brutality have often ended in acquittals. Here’s what you need to know about Chauvin’s trial and the likelihood of a conviction.

What are the charges?
Chauvin’s most serious charge is second-degree unintentional murder, which in this case involves killing someone by inflicting “substantial bodily harm” and can carry up to 40 years in prison. The former officer also faces a third-degree murder charge, requiring proof that he acted in an “eminently dangerous” way with disregard for human life (this is often the charge pressed against those who fire shots randomly into a crowd or drive on the wrong side of the road). It could result in a 25-year-long sentence. Second-degree manslaughter is the least serious of the charges Chauvin faces, for consciously taking risks that a reasonable person would have known could cause death.

What are the arguments on either side?
The arguments in the case will focus on two main questions: whether Chauvin’s actions significantly contributed to Floyd’s death, and whether those actions were reasonable. The prosecution is arguing that Chauvin’s actions killed Floyd by cutting off his oxygen flow, while the defense is claiming Floyd died from other causes. Though the complete autopsy report classified Floyd’s death as a homicide because Chauvin was restraining him, it also noted that Floyd had heart disease, hypertension, and a mix of fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system, both of which can cause cardiac arrest. Defense attorney Eric Nelson said he would show evidence that before the fatal incident, Floyd had taken drugs in his car in an attempt to hide the illicit substances from police. His team will point to video evidence that Floyd began to say he couldn’t breathe before being restrained.

Nelson will also argue that Chauvin’s chokehold was a justified use of self-defense in response to an intoxicated, unpredictable, and physically strong suspect. He will present evidence from a 911 caller who described Floyd as “not in control of himself” and testimony from a nearby store employee who said the man looked “under the influence.”

The prosecution, on the other hand, will heavily rely on the video capturing Floyd’s death, which attorney Jerry Blackwell showed in full during his opening statement. His team will use more testimony to help support the argument that Floyd died from oxygen deprivation rather than an opioid overdose, such as calling on an expert to say that Chauvin used “lethal force” against Floyd and on a police commander to confirm that the former officer had been trained to do CPR.

The state lawyers will at use evidence of Chauvin’s previous behavior, such as his use of a chokehold while arresting a woman in 2017, to attempt to establish a pattern of recklessness. They will make the case that Chauvin knew how to safely arrest someone by proving that medical professionals had already once explained to him, during a 2015 arrest, that an intoxicated male could die from prolonged restraint.

What’s the likelihood of a conviction?
Keith Ellison, Minnesota’s attorney general, has already said that “it’s hard to convict the police even when the criminal wrongdoing appears to be in front of your eyes.” History bears that out: In other high-profile police-brutality cases against Black people, like those of Freddie Gray and Rodney King, officers have been acquitted, and in countless others, like that of Breonna Taylor, officers have not even faced charges for the murders. (Brett Hankinson, the cop who killed Taylor, was indicted on charges that didn’t even involve her death.)

There are many facts that work in the prosecution’s favor, including the clear video evidence of what happened. (One lawyer told the Chicago Tribune that, if he were the prosecutor, he would keep a still shot of Chauvin’s expressionless face up for the jurors to see: “You want to show indifference?” said Clayton Tyler, a defense attorney. “Just look at him.”) Since there are three separate charges of varying degrees of severity, there’s a decent chance the jury will convict Chauvin of at least one. Legal experts say it seems likely that Chauvin could be found guilty of committing reckless actions that showed disregard for human life, the criteria for the third-degree murder charge. And to convict him of the most serious charge, prosecutors only need to prove that his actions were a substantial factor in Floyd’s death, rather than the sole cause of it.

On the other hand, the defense lawyers only need to convince one juror that there’s reasonable doubt as to whether Chauvin’s actions ended a life. And while Chauvin’s guilt may seem obvious from the video, he’s authorized to use force as a police officer making decisions in pressure-filled situations. As law professor Ted Sampsell-Jones points out in the Dispatch, defining whether Chauvin’s conduct was a “substantial causal factor” can veer into murky territory. “That definition is somewhat circular,” he writes, “and it raises the question: How substantial is substantial enough?”

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/what-to-expect-in-the-derek-chauvin-murder-trial/ar-BB1f84ne
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maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2021 04:39 pm
The defense had a good day today (and remember that this is still the prosecution time to present its case). We are starting to see points made by prosecution witnesses that could be the basis of reasonable doubt.

In particular, with the police training specialist, the defense showed pictures in the police manual that had the knee applied to the shoulder blades. There was discussion under cross-examination between training and real-life. And there was body cam footage showing that for much of the 9 minutes, Chauvin's knee was not in contact with Floyd's neck.

The New York Times is wondering if the prosecution made a tactical error by having so many use of force expert witnesses.
oralloy
 
  -3  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2021 06:30 pm
@maxdancona,
I'm curious about something. (Note that I have not bothered to watch the infamous 9 minute video.)

Earlier discussion from some months ago made it sound like the guy was on his side and the knee pressing on the side of his neck.

Recent discussion made it sound like the guy was on his belly with the knee on the back of his neck.

Is it clear which of those scenarios is the case?

I'm not sure if it even matters. I've just noticed that recent discussion seems to describe things differently than what I had envisioned based on earlier discussion.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2021 07:29 pm
@oralloy,
This is why we have a trial with an impartial jury.
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maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 7 Apr, 2021 07:26 am
The maneuvering over the fifth amendment is interesting.

Yesterday we heard from Maurice Hall. The jury did not see this. Maurice Hall is the alleged drug dealer who was in the car when Floyd was arrested. I think he would be a good witness for the defense (who wants to emphasis the role of drug use).

The public defender for Maurice Hall made it emphatically clear that he will invoke the fifth and say nothing. The judge asked her if he could comment on things that did not incriminate him. She repeated he would say nothing. The judged mused that maybe he could be asked about the weather. She replied that would put him at the scene, and we are saying nothing on the topic.

From what I have read, the other officers that were on the scene are all pleading the fifth. I can't imagine them wanting to testify.

I don't think the jury is allowed to know who is pleading the fifth.
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maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 7 Apr, 2021 09:26 pm
If the jury finds Chauvin not guilty of all counts, the testimony on the drug use will be a big part of it. There apparently were high levels of opioids found in his system at the time of death.

The discovery of pills on the scene containing fentanyl and methamphetamine go a long way to creating reasonable doubt to the cause of death. More importantly they give the jury an emotional way out of a guilty verdict. Remember that the jury is made of human beings.

I don't think the guilty verdict some are hoping for is at all a sure thing.

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maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Fri 9 Apr, 2021 06:43 am
Yesterday featured pulmonologist Martin Tobin. Without question he was an excellent witness for the prosecution. He was brilliant, credentialed, likable, calm and believable (and he had a great accent to boot). His presentation was well done, mathematical and definitive... that Chauvin and his fellow officers were unquestionably the sole cause of Floyd's death.

Of course Tobin's testimony doesn't end the trial... in fact there are weaknesses in his analysis that will certainly be addressed by the defense. As a former physics teacher I cringed in a few parts of his physics discussion (his assertion that the distribution of weight can known is scientifically wrong). This can be exploited by the defense when they get to bring up their own scientific expert witnesses.

I was reading analysis of cross-examination. There is no question that Nelson looked tired, he was not on his game. There was one point analysts.were saying he should have made (that Floyd first said 'I can't breathe" while he was standing up). Nelson got this in with a later witness.

From what I read, the best way to counter a good expert witness is with a good expert witness. Because Tobin made claims with such certainty, an defense expert witness can disprove a couple to great effect.

That being said… this was a very good day for the prosecution.

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maxdancona
 
  -2  
Reply Fri 9 Apr, 2021 07:01 am
I think the fact that George Floyd started saying "I can't breathe" before be was restrained by Chauvin is important to the defense case.
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maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Sat 10 Apr, 2021 08:33 am
Here we go again

Now we have the political left declaring that the outcome of this trial is "conclusive" and suggesting that the only way they can lose is if the defense can "cook something up with a dishonest juror". They are stating that any juror who disagrees with them is crooked.

This is a little scary. The last time we had such certainty from extremists it resulted in a violent mob storming the capitol.

You can't guarantee the outcome of a fair trial (that's why it's fair). The rhetoric from the left is as dangerous as the when it comes from the right.
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maxdancona
 
  -2  
Reply Sat 10 Apr, 2021 02:44 pm
Friday's testimony had more medical witnesses. They were compelling and likable (especially the forensic pathologist). They all indicated that Chauvin was responsible for the death of Floyd (as you would expect from a prosecution witness).

However, even the New York Times is reporting weaknesses with the prosecution case. The medical witnesses for the prosecution are disagreeing on the primary cause of Floyd's death... whether it is asphyxiation or cardiac arrest. You can bet that the defense will highlight contradictory statements made when they get the chance to make their case.

The prosecution is wrapping up its case. In spite of the ridiculous declarations of the political left, their case is far from conclusive. There are several weaknesses in the prosecution narrative and the defense now gets a chance to make its case.
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maxdancona
 
  -2  
Reply Sun 11 Apr, 2021 09:40 am
On Friday there was an interesting little interaction that had the ideological left cheering. In reality it was not a good moment for the prosecution.

The issue was the claim that any healthy person would have died in this situation. The defense asked about a study showing the many people restrained in a similar manner don't die. The prosecution witness responded with a sarcastic jab about how police departments don't report deaths. Not only was this irrelevant to the specific point i this case, it also showed political bias that probably didn't sit well with jurors who aren't in the ideological bubble.

The ideological left is making a mistake; confusing this criminal trial with a broader narrative of racial justice. The jury will be instructed specifically to not do this. Their one job is to judge the facts and the evidence on this one criminal case.

The political left is out of touch... cheering at a moment that was counterproductive to the prosecution's effort to get a guilty verdict.
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maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2021 06:59 pm
Now the defense is making its case. The first couple of days haven't been that interesting, we kind of know where this is going.

The use of force expert got rattled under cross-examination. The prosecutor made him answer whether Chavin was acting reasonably
at each point of the 9 minute video. It was brutally effective,,

The defense was allowed to show a video of a previous arrest of Floyd with a warning from the judge to not make a judgment on Floyd's character (I don't know how that works). The defense is successfully bringing questions about Floyd's behavior into the mind of the jury.

I think the defense is also making valid points about the dangerousness of the crowd. They now have testimony from people on the scene including prosecution witnesses saying that they felt threatened by the crowd.

And of course the defense is also highlighting the drug use. An interesting part of the testimony was from the other woman who was in the car with George Floyd. She testified that Floyd was lapsing in and out of sleep which is something that the prosecution witness said would be a sign of a drug overdose
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maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 15 Apr, 2021 10:46 am
Yesterday the defense presented their Expert Medical Witness. It was a pretty good day for the defense the witness certainly provided Reasonable Doubt as to the cause of Floyd death. One of the legal analysts I listened to was joking about the dueling accents( the prosecution medical witness and the defense medical witness both had cool accents). The legal analyst gives a slight Edge to the prosecution witness accent.

As I see it now the prosecution has scored points on the use of force argument and the defense has scored real points on the medical argument. Of course what the jury thinks of all this is the real question.

roger
 
  2  
Reply Thu 15 Apr, 2021 12:26 pm
@maxdancona,
I don't see the relevance of the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. If he inhaled a significant volume, it is only because he was held in a position where he was exposed to it for over 9 minutes. It clearly wasn't his choice.
maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 15 Apr, 2021 12:30 pm
@roger,
The defense argument is that the cause of death is "unknown". They want to insert any variable they can with the goal of creating reasonable doubt.

The prosecution is arguing that thar only cause of death was the knee to that back in prone position. In my opinion, the prosecution has failed to prove this.

The defense wants the jury to focus on the flaws in the prosecution case.
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maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 15 Apr, 2021 12:32 pm
@roger,
I think carbon monoxide poisoning would be more likely to be considered as accidental by the jury.
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maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 15 Apr, 2021 12:35 pm
There was some interesting courtroom drama around this. There are actually tests showing that there were no significant levels of carbon monoxide in George Floyd's blood. However this evidence is inadmissible.

The problem was that the prosecution f***** up. The defense stated in February that they were planning to use the carbon monoxide theory as an alternative theory. The prosecution failed to provide these tests into evidence. For the judge to allow this evidence to be offered as new evidence in the rebuttal phase of the trial would have been unfair to the defendant.

The judge said pretty sternly that if there was even a hint that these tests existed it would result in a mistrial.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Apr, 2021 01:14 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

There was some interesting courtroom drama around this. There are actually tests showing that there were no significant levels of carbon monoxide in George Floyd's blood. However this evidence is inadmissible.

I'd sure make a lousy lawyer.
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