Verdict reached in Derek Chauvin trial: Guilty on all three charges

April 20, 2021 • 2:53 pm

UPDATE: The verdicts:

Second-degree murder: GUILTY

Third-degree murder: GUILTY

Second-degree manslaughter: GUILTY

Chauvin, who was remanded into custody, faces up to 40 years in prison.

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According to many sources, including the New York Times, the jury in Minneapolis has reached a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. That means that it’s unanimous.

And if it’s that quick, I’m betting on at least one “guilty” verdict. In fact, I’d bet $200 on that outcome. (The charges are second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.)

I’ll post the verdict itself, which is supposed to be announced in an hour, right here. I hope that, if a guilty verdict is reached, it’s the kind of guilty verdict that won’t incite riots  because it’s the “wrong” verdict, one not perceived as bringing “justice.”

In the unlikely event that Chauvin is cleared of all charges, batten down the hatches.

Stay tuned.

71 thoughts on “Verdict reached in Derek Chauvin trial: Guilty on all three charges

  1. A verdict this fast in a trial of this nature is almost always favorable to the prosecution.

    My guess is that Chauvin will be convicted on at least two of the three counts.

    1. I expect riots regardless. There are people gathered there who want a riot, just like the “boogaloo bois” who burned the police station last year.

    2. Hi Ken, A couple of things surprised me about the Chauvin trial:

      1. The prosecution was allowed (positive) character witnesses to speak about George Floyd. (To me, this seems unrelated of the guilt or innocence of the accused. It seems like jury … I won’t say tampering, but messing.) This is, as reported by NPR, permitted by Minnesota law.

      2. The prosecution got a “rebuttal” after the defense closing statement. I thought the defense would get the last word.

      Could you please comment on either or both of these? Thanks.

      1. As to #2, it’s standard practice for the prosecution to get a “sandwich” in closing arguments — the initial argument and a rebuttal — since it bears the burden of proof.

        As to #1, it’s highly unusual for the prosecution to be allowed to adduce evidence of the victim’s good character except where self-defense is claimed by the defendant (and, in such cases, the evidence is generally limited to the victim’s peaceable character, to show that he or she was not the aggressor). That the prosecution was permitted to put on evidence regarding George Floyd’s character appears to be a fluke of MN law.

        1. Is there not also a modern rule allowing the victim’s family and others to demonstrate the “injury” inflicted on them because of the death, thus, also giving the opportunity to illustrate the victim’s good character as a by-product.

          1. Such “victim impact” statements and testimony are permitted in some jurisdictions during the sentencing phase of cases (including in capital cases, where the sentence is determined by the jury), but are generally inadmissible at trial in determining guilt.

      1. IIUC – If I understand Correctly – a first-degree murder conviction requires the jury to deduce a mens rea – Latin, “guilty mind” – in the accused. They need to deduce a conscious intention to cause lethal harm to the victim.
        Maybe in your youth you remember an English/ Welsh court drama series under the title of “Malice Aforethought” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malice_Aforethought, section 2, IIRC), which was the element in the mind of the accused which the QC had to demonstrate in order to get the accused hung instead of jailed. (Looking at the Wiki, I may be conflating the phrase and some other programme. 1979 – it’s a 41y cold memory.
        So, … shooting into the air at a party, and the bullet killing someone a horizon away would be manslaughter, culpable homicide (or reckless homicide) or third degree murder under English/ Welsh, Scottish or American prosecution. The same shot aimed at someone in front of you but killing someone else 10deg left of them would be manslaughter, culpable homicide, or second degree murder (same sequence). A third shot aimed at the person who dies would be murder, murder, or first-degree murder. You may see that different jurisdictions put different weights on different degrees of culpability.
        I wonder how something like a video of “Dobby” (in the Harry Potter universe) saying “I never plan to murder you – just to maim or torment” would play if the target died. There are probably clarifying precedents in all the jurisdictions I mention. .

    1. Somewhat ironically, the prosecution’s burden on the M2 charge in this case is easier — all it need prove is a felonious assault and that Floyd died as a result (whereas for the M3 charge, the state must prove Chauvin was reckless to the point of evince a depraved mind).

      I think the felony-murder rule is at odds with the rest of US law, but it has a long history in Anglo-American common law.

      1. Here’s my take on the M2 charge: They needed to prove the felony assault charge, which includes intent to do harm.

        I don’t think they proved that. I sincerely believe Chauvin f*cked up. Not that he doesn’t deserve punishment: I think the M3 charge fits his actions (and if I had been a potential juror, I would have had to say that I thought he was guilty of M3). He had a responsibility to not harm Floyd; and he failed terribly in that.

      2. I’m puzzled by guilty verdicts being returned on charges representing several different levels of culpability by the same jury on the same evidence base.
        Are the jury instructed to deliberate first of all on the most-culpable charge, then on the less culpable charge, then … until they’ve gone through the charge sheet, and it’s time to march back and deliver the score card?
        Or … let me guess … the judge works out these niceties before and during the “sentencing phase”, and that informs both the top-line punishments for each section of the ticket, and which offences are punished consecutively and which concurrently?

  2. Batten down the hatches when he is found not guilty of M2. Minneapolis is in for a few nights (at least) of “mostly-peaceful” protests.

    Really, really glad my medical appointment was this morning!

  3. He will be found guilty of M2. I do not think you would have such a quick verdict if this were otherwise. The prosecution did their job well.

    1. Hopefully… The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.

      Chauvin has just arrived back at the courthouse.

      1. From a right wing site, PJ Media:

        “Appealable considerations began with no change of venue. Witness intimidation, public statements meant to persuade the public, including the jurors, before they were sequestered were uttered by everyone from Joe Biden to Maxine Waters. Alternate jurors who lived in the riot zone had to be dismissed. Defense attorney Eric Nelson pointed to his request to sequester the jury for the entire trial will undoubtedly come into play in an appeal. Though experts say it’s not usually something that is given much heft, prosecutorial misconduct in closing arguments was objected to.”

        You may not favour such a source but the grounds for appeal seem possible. I have no views on the verdicts themselves (I live in the UK so the media visibility and law work differently).

        1. Biden didn’t comment until after they were sequestered, so that’s wrong. There’s not much there, to be honest.

        1. Well, he ended that comment with, “a congresswoman’s opinion really doesn’t matter a whole lot.” Those who think this verdict will be overturned because of a comment like that, are probably the same ones who thought the evidence was too flimsy to convict. Or subscribe to the theory that the jury convicted because they were afraid.

            1. Free speech is neither here nor there in this situation. Speech may be protected by law and still be unwise for any number of reasons.

  4. Ugh…I turned on CNN to see Don Lemon giving the “This is America On Trial” take.

    Clearly it’s an important trial.

    But it just strikes me as so dangerous to freight single trials like that, where you put every chip on that scale to be spilled over if you don’t get the verdict you want. No, this is a single trial of a police officer, and it should be deliberated as such, the evidence falling where it falls. (He seems guilty to me based on what I’ve seen in the trial). If you really want to do a America On Trial responsibly, you’d do a sober look at the data, evidence, statistics etc to establish the systematic racism you are putting in to this one trial.

    As people like Coleman Hughes, Mcwhorter and others have pointed out, America’s race relations, especially the view of police and racism, is being held hostage to a degree by reactions to videos that incite emotional responses, and from which people leap to conclusions as being representative of The System. The USA will remain in that precarious position, always ready to be unspooled by the inevitable next viral video, until somehow more sober heads can prevail. (not likely).

  5. “Clearly it’s an important trial.

    But it just strikes me as so dangerous to freight single trials like that, where you put every chip on that scale to be spilled over if you don’t get the verdict you want.”

    I think you somewhat contradict yourself. The reason it is an important trial is because this case has such profound national, even international, interest. It isn’t being “freighted” by Don Lemon. He’s stating exactly the view of many millions of people.

      1. Also happily surprised here. Was really thinking it was too much to expect at this point. Hope everyone stays safe & well. Maybe now we can get on to figuring out how to reign the police in.

  6. This was really the only outcome. But we must understand – without that video from the girl this never would have happened. Certainly not this result.

  7. I identify with the defense lawyers out of habit, but the result seems like justice from what I saw.

        1. Yes, once the defense’s contentions regarding alternative causation of death deliquesced upon the witness stand, it was left with no viable theory to argue to the jury.

          The testimony of the medical experts was this trial’s turning point, I believe.

          1. I think the turning point was: The Chief of Police of Minneapolis PD testifying that Chauvin’s actions did not fit the standards or training of the MPD.

            That took away the defense of: It was accidental, as the result of normal police actions.

          2. The trial brought expert witnesses into disrepute, in my mind, for two reasons. First, the exorbitant payments, in the ballpark of $20,000 for some of them, produce a strong incentive to say something favorable to the side paying you rather than to say what is best supported by the evidence. Second, when I see expert witnesses offer their services (at a high price) to one side, get turned down, and then offer their services to the other side, I can only assume that their testimony would be completely different depending on who employs them. Would they really approach one side, take a large payment, and then testify against them? I doubt it.

            I think expert witnesses should be paid a nominal amount, like jurors, and should perhaps be required to release a précis of their expert opinion before approaching either side.

    1. Nice of the Juice to take time away from his ongoing search for the real killers of Ron & Nicole on Bundy Drive to weigh in on this.

      Just the kind of public-spirited fella he is, I ‘spoze.

  8. Chauvin could not have done anything other than what he actually did. He was a victim of circumstance, unfortunate to have the quarks and electrons combine in a particular configuration, to his misfortune and the misfortune of George Floyd. Right?

    1. Yes, but this verdict and the resulting jail time adds to the milieu of remembered events that percolates into peoples’ consciousness and subconsciousness. This can later influence neural motor patterns of police officers in the future to not do this. Not as conscious choices, mind you.

      1. “Not of conscious choices.” Where does that lead? If everyone, including the overheated media, were unconscious of this case, would things play out the same way? I don’t think so. The complementary notions of personal responsibility and deterrence through punishment (implying choice and free will) appear to fit the crime better than some amorphous influence on future collective neural motor patterns.

        1. It doesn’t matter ‘which appear to fit the crime better’, it matters which is true. Which appear to fit the crime better is an argument without evidence.

          ‘Where does that lead?’ doesn’t effect the truth or falsity of the statement/position.
          Personal responsibility and deterrence through punishment (the threat or example of punishment) is the result neural motor patterns. The concept of personal responsibility can exist in a purely deterministic universe where there is no free will. The concept can change behavior, just as the threat of punishment can (along with other factors).

          One would think if deterrence through punishment was as effective as it’s made out to be the US would be one of the safest countries in the world. Perhaps it’s more complicated.

    2. As a determinist, I cannot disagree with your assessment, but there is obviously much more to it. Chauvin appears to have demonstrated similar behavior in the past, and given his shocking behavior in this case, it’s very likely he would have acted similarly in the future. The man should not hold any position of authority or one from which he might be able to exercise any power, physically or psychologically, over others. He clearly presents a danger to people when he has the opportunity. That opportunity to harm others, whether in a professional or personal context, needs to be eliminated until he can justify otherwise. More importantly, the case must set an example to the law enforcement community and the public; the message must be that this callous, dangerous, and dehumanizing behavior against certain ethnic and social minorities will not be tolerated. Otherwise, and as we have observed for decades, it will simply continue.

        1. I’m a bit late here, but to answer your question: as a determinist, I really don’t know how to answer that question. What is ‘getting his just deserts’? To me, Just deserts means retribution – making someone suffer and feel traumatised in order to get them back for their actions. And although it’s an appealing and instinctive response, it is very ineffective as a solution to violence.

          My position is that Chauvin is a disgusting, uncaring, cold, heartless bully. You don’t have to look far to see similar misdeeds in the past – tomh below provides a great link on that. As a determinist I believe reducing harm is the ultimate goal. To do so, society should ensure he is never given a position of authority again, he should serve a LONG time in prison to keep him away from the public while also giving him time to understand what he has done. The aim should be to prevent this happening again while helping his victim’s family to heal. He’s a scumbag, but that doesn’t mean getting his ‘just deserts’ is a good idea – it might just make him more violent and troublesome.

      1. “Chauvin appears to have demonstrated similar behavior in the past”

        Can you please define this and provide citations/references? Restraining suspects IS a normal part of police work.

        What’s missing, in my opinion, is proper and sufficient training of police in how to do that safely. Safely for themselves and the suspects.

        1. As tomh points out below, there are many instances of this behaviour pattern previously, look them up.

          I agree completely that retaining suspects is a normal part of police work. However, kneeling hard on their neck for 9 minutes is not, especially when said suspect is calling out to say they can’t breathe. Even less normal is the fact that Mr Floyd repeatedly said that he couldn’t breathe 27 times. Less normal still is refusing point blank to get off his neck. After those 27 cries, another officer identified Floyd had no pulse and requested they put him on his side, Chauvin responded by saying: “No, Staying Put Where We Got Him” and compressed his neck for another 2 minutes to the ambulance arrived.

          I’m sorry, but continuing to kneel on a suspect with all your weight, when he is saying he can’t breathe doesn’t mean you aren’t properly trained, it means you’re either a monster or you don’t care at all. Most egregious of all is the fact that his pulse stopped at least 2 minutes before the medics got there, but rather than help, turn him on his side, or give him CPR, Chauvin did nothing. However, he said: “No, Staying Put Where We Got Him” . That is heartless, cold and cruel behaviour. It’s NOT lack of training, it’s psychopathy.

  9. I watched quite a bit of the prosecution’s case( very strong ) and a bit of the defense case(very weak). There was no doubt in my mind that Chauvin was guilty. No surprise he got slammed by the jury. Now, let’s see if the sentence is reasonable (meaning long).

  10. There are three more people to be tried, unless they plead first, which isn’t impossible now they know how the first case went. And assuming they go down as well, one way or the other, the message will be twofold: First, if you’re a cop, think hard before you kill someone on the job. And second, if you’re a cop and you’re present while another cop is killing someone, intervene.

      1. I don’t know what Chauvin intended, and I don’t think we’ll ever know, and I don’t think it matters. But if Chauvin had put any thought into what he was doing during the first few of those 9+ minutes on Floyd’s neck, Floyd would still be alive.

        1. We don’t know but he may have thought about it. And if so then he intended to kill him. Most likely, I think, he just didn’t care whether Floyd died or not.

            1. He was guilty of, “caus[ing] the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others [..]

              One of the stresses being placed on the evidence on this side of the Pond is that Chauvin acted within the boundaries set by the police’s “restraint” training, and that he had a defence that he had been trained that this act was not “eminently dangerous”.
              It seems the jury have rejected this, and therefore the entire police force of Mine.. [wherever it is] is an incompletely trained rookie as of 1 minute after the verdict was delivered. Probably, every police officer in a state where these restraint techniques are accepted has become untrained. And many police officers around the world too.

          1. Of course, but I was writing specific to this case, in which Chauvin never revealed his intent but was convicted anyway, meaning his true intent, whatever it was, didn’t matter.

            (As I side note, I do feel I’m writing clearly, if not precisely, such that the average reader can understand my meaning. If you find another passage in the above that can be interpreted as erroneous, have at it, I am preemptively declining to respond further)

        2. I believe he had enough training and experience to know the likely consequences of what he was doing. I don’t believe that in the moment he thought he would ever personally face any consequences.

  11. America: where you’re surprised and relieved that a public official faces consequences for kneeling on someone’s neck as they beg for their life until they die. What a country.

  12. That’s some wild stuff from Lin Wood. I’d heard of him but didn’t realize the extent of the crazy. Wow – it slowed me down for a moment and I had to watch it twice. Like a car crash. What REALLY screwed me was the masses of (unmasked – of course) clapping morons in the crowd. Who presumably put their own pants on that day to get there, drove (consider THAT) and possibly vote.
    Trumpism/MAGA isn’t such a mystery now.
    Boy.
    D.A.
    NYC

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