7.22.2020

Minnesota Judge Lifts Gag Order In George Floyd Criminal Case


On Tuesday, A Minnesota judge lifted the gag order of the case in opposition to 4 former Minneapolis police officers charged with the death of George Floyd, which has made the nationwide protests and conversations about the racial injustice this spring.


Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill issued the order, which avoided ivolved parties from discussing the case in Public, earlier this month fater the defense of the attorney's comments to the press, At the time he wrote that pretrial publicity would taint the jury pool `and can result to an unfair trial.


The order was met with the opposition from the defendants attorney as well as a coalition of the media organisations.




The attorneys argued that prosecutors and public officials had already made comments that would prejudice potential jurors against their clients.

An attorney for Derek Chauvin — the previous officer proven on video kneeling on Floyd's neck for almost 9 minutes — said his client was being called a murderer, and that it would be so hard to find pretrial publicity referring to his innocence until proved guilty or actions being justifiable in the line of duty.

Chauvin faces second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter charges, and stays in custody. The other 3 officers who was present at the scene, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, face charges of aiding and abetting the second degree murder and manslaughter. The four former officers were Fired.

"In pronouncing his ruling, Cahill stated he agreed with the defense attorney arguement that a gag order would be unfair to their clients and also limit their ability to defend themselves against the negative publicity". AP reported.


Media organizations also objected to the gag order, on the grounds that it restricted an "incredibly broad array" of speech by involved parties and subjected a "staggering number" of individuals not directly involved in the case to those restrictions.

Last week, attorneys representing a coalition of organizations which include American Public Media Group; CBS Broadcasting, Inc.; The Associated Press and the New York Times Company asked Cahill to make clear and restrict the scope of the order.


They argued that it could be interpreted to restrict public comments from a number of tangentailly relatied people from the state and county employees to the university of minnesota system professors.



"George Floyd's death catapulted Black Lives Matter into one of the largest movements in this country's history and spurred important conversations on a number of topics that arguably 'relate' to these prosecutions," they wrote in a court filing.


They additionally objected to the courtroom limits on access to the body worn camera footage that has been publicly shared by one of the defendants and also asked the judge to make it possible to be available for copying by the press in the public.

Lane's attorney filed police body camera footage of the May 25 incident with the court earlier this month as part of a request to dismiss charges against him. The attorney, Earl Gray, wanted the footage to be made public.



Cahill answered with the aid of using issuing the gag order and making the video available for viewing only in person and by appointment.




The Media Coalition argued that these limitations are "tantamount" to to keeping the footage under seal, and noted that eyewitness video of Floyd's death , in addition to transcripts of the body camera footage, are already circulating in public.


They requested the courtroom to make a public copy of the footage so that "it may be viewed not just by those who have the time and wherewithal to visit the courthouse during a global pandemic but by all members of the public concerned about the administration of justice in one of the most important, and most-watched, cases this State — perhaps this country — has ever seen."



Cahill did not issue a ruling on the motion Tuesday. He said he has 90 days to make a decision but plans to do so sooner than that.

He also ruled that he would not hold Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, lead prosecutor in the case, in contempt of court after two defense attorneys asked him to do so. Cahill said a statement Ellison made in mid-July, about additional attorneys assisting the prosecution, did not violate the gag order.

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