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Chauvin attorney asks for jury sequestration in wake of Daunte Wright shooting, Judge Cahill denies

The motion follows the incident in Brooklyn Center during which a police officer shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright.
Credit: Internal

MINNEAPOLIS — Before the first day of the third week of the Derek Chauvin murder trial began, defense attorney Eric Nelson brought up a similar motion this morning.

"Your Honor at this time, I am requesting again sequestration of the jury," Nelson said. "In view of the incidents of last night - as the court I'm sure is aware - an officer-involved shooting took place in the city of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota."

Nelson argued that not only is one juror a resident of Brooklyn Center, but also that the civil unrest that followed last night's events will evoke certain emotions in the jurors.

"While I understand, it's not this case, I understand it does not involve these same parties," Nelson explained. "But the problem is, the emotional response that case creates, sets the stage for a jury to say, 'I'm not going to vote not guilty, because I'm concerned about the outcome.'"

Nelson also asked for further voir dire, or questioning of the jurors again, regarding whether they've seen or heard anything about the Brooklyn Center incident.

He also asked the judge to tell them at the beginning and end of each day to avoid any and all media. That's something the State argued is near impossible.

"What does avoid all media mean?" Steven Schleicher said. "Years ago, it used to mean don't read the newspaper, don't watch TV. It means something different now I suppose. Media comes at us in all different forms. I think it would be difficult to follow an order to avoid all media."

Schleicher said sequestering the jury wouldn't make a difference as world events are unavoidable.

"Things continue to happen in this state, despite the fact that we're all here in trial," Schleicher said. "That's just what happens. We can't have every single world event that might effect someone's attitude or emotional state or anything to be the grounds to come back and re-voir dire all the jurors."

Judge Peter Cahill agreed, adding that he initially brought up the possibility of a mid-trial jury sequestration specifically for the sake of jury safety and tamper-protection.

"The concern there was that despite keeping jurors anonymous, that someone may find out who one of the jurors is and reach out and have an inappropriate attempt to tamper with the jury," Judge Cahill said. "No indication that that's happened in this case."

He added that a sequestration might bring even more attention to the Brooklyn Center incident to the jury.

"I think sequestration will only aggravate that," he said. "'Oh I heard about the civil unrest, and now the judge is putting us in sequestration, there must be a greater threat to our security.' I think the better way is to continue with the trial as we've been going. And that's a separate issue, they should treat it as such, it would be a different issue if it was civil unrest following another verdict."