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Potential Jurors in Chauvin Murder Trial Were Asked About ‘BLM’ in Questionnaire

This trial has all the makings of a blockbuster, race-fueled media event – think this generation’s O.J. Simpson trial on steroids.

Minneapolis, aerial view
BUCKLE UP: A much anticipated, race-fueled murder trial begins next week in the Twin Cities.

(MINNEAPOLIS, MN) – Potential jurors in the upcoming murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the disgraced ex-cop accused of killing George Floyd, were sent a ‘special juror questionnaire’ back in December to inform the jury selection process that will begin next week on March 8th.

The questionnaire was sent to a pool of potential jurors living in Hennepin County, Minnesota, and offers some clues about what the focus of the state’s prosecution and Chauvin’s defense team will be when the case, 27-CR-20-12646: State vs. Derek Chauvin, goes to a jury trial by the end of March.

Questions asked of potential jurors ranged from their knowledge of the events surrounding Floyd’s death to their personal interactions with law enforcement in the community.

Double dose of ‘BLM’

One question asked if respondents or someone close to them had participated in any of the protests, adding: “If you participated, did you carry a sign? What did it say?”

On page 8 of the questionnaire, potential jurors were asked the following two questions:

“How favorable or unfavorable are you about Black Lives Matter?”

“How favorable or unfavorable are you about Blue Lives Matter?”

Screenshot of juror questionnaire
IMAGE: Annotated screenshot of juror questionnaire which is still available online.

Race is on the docket

It’s clear from questions like these that attorneys are keenly interested in potential jurors’ views on social justice movements and their attitudes towards police – setting the stage for what could be a dominant narrative in this case.

In the aftermath of Floyd’s death caught on camera at the hands of police officers, with Chauvin seen kneeling on his neck, “Blue Lives Matter” has been largely portrayed as a counter movement to “Black Lives Matter” and support for it has even been deemed ‘rascist’.

There can be no argument that this particular case has all the makings of a blockbuster, race-fueled media event – think this generation’s O.J. Simpson trial on steroids.

Hennepin County Government Center (Wikimedia Commons)
IMAGE: Hennepin County Government Center prior to its fortification. (Photo Credit: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons)

Courthouse ‘fortress’

Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, where the trial will convene in courtroom C-1856, has already been heavily fortified with concrete barriers and barbed wire security fencing in anticipation of large crowds of protesters.

According to a recent New York Post report, Mayor Jacob Frey said 3,000 law enforcement personnel could be deployed throughout the city in preparation for the trial.

HCGC FORTRESS (AP Photo/New York Post)
IMAGE: Pre-trial scene at the courthouse with security infrastructure now in place. (AP Photo/New York Post)

At this past Monday’s City Council Public Briefing, it was confirmed by the Minneapolis Police Department that the Minnesota National Guard will be playing a key a role in coordination of all city, county and state law enforcement and security operations throughout the duration of the trial.

Cameras in the courtroom

The trial will be televised “gavel-to-gavel” with Court TV being the only network with cameras in the courtroom – serving as the central feed for all other media outlets. The trial will also be live-streamed across the Internet to global audiences.

To get a sense of how this trial is being packaged to the public, just watch your local or national media coverage. Or, this Court TV video trailer for the event:

(original link)

Finding an ‘impartial’ jury

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter for the death of Floyd, and had another charge of third-degree murder thrown out last fall by presiding Judge Peter Cahill.

Prosecutors are making a last-ditch effort to reinstate the third-degree murder charge. An appeals court agreed to hear their arguments and will decide on the issue prior to jury selection which begins next week.

Both sides and Judge Cahill will have a staggering challenge ahead of them finding jurors that haven’t already formed some type of opinion about the case to faithfully conduct a fair trial.

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