According to court documents, police officer Derek Chauvin hired a new attorney in October to handle the appeal of his conviction from April, when he was found guilty in the death of George Floyd.
Attorney William Mohrman filed with the court saying he would represent Chauvin in his appeal. Chauvin was convicted in April on state charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
Morhman’s firm was involved in a lawsuit in Arizona regarding the presidential election results, which claimed, among other things, that Mark Zuckerberg handed out grant money to direct the actions of elections officials. The lawsuit prompted complaints against Morhman from the Arizona State Bar until the complaints were dismissed after the attorneys withdrew their lawsuit.
The firm is also representing hundreds of Minnesota health care workers who have sued their employers over COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
In June Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison. Directly after the guilty conviction, Chauvin and his wife Kellie were also charged with tax evasion to which they pled not guilty to recently.
REVOLT reported, the Chauvins were each charged with six counts of aiding and abetting taxes or filing fraudulent returns and three counts of failing to file tax returns. Washington County District Judge Sheridan Hawley entered their not guilty pleas and set the next court hearing for Jan. 21.
On June 26, 2020, Kellie, who filed for divorce after her husband was charged with murder, called Chauvin at the prison and told him that their unfiled tax returns were being investigated.
Now Chauvin is raising money for his appeal. A legal defense fund set up by Chauvin’s mother on the Christian website GiveSendGo has already raised over $40,000 dollars.
The fundraiser reads:
“If you believe that police officers have the right to challenge their convictions, especially if like Derek’s mother, you believe that the conviction was unjust because (among other things) the denial of Derek’s right to change the venue to a less prejudiced and hostile environment denied him the right to a fair trial, we would be very grateful if you would help donate to Derek’s legal defense. All of the money raised by this campaign will be used to directly fund attorney’s fees and legal costs of Derek’s legal defense. Donations may be made anonymously if desired.”
Appeals are a normal — but not mandatory — part of the court process. According to the American Bar Association, appeals are usually based on alleged errors in the trial’s procedure or the judge’s interpretation of the law. It is stated that the success rate on appeal in criminal cases is typically less than 7%, and less than five percent of habeas corpus motions in federal court are successful.
Chauvin could seek to challenge the verdict based on a number of grounds, including arguing the jury was prejudiced by intense media coverage of the case and the $27 million settlement won by George Floyd’s family to settle a civil lawsuit filed over his death. That settlement was reached during jury selection.
Cahill’s ruling to not move the trial or delay proceedings could be challenged as part of the appeal. The decision to sequester the jury for only deliberations could also be an appellate issue.
Chauvin’s attorney could also cite comments from California Rep. Maxine Waters, who urged protesters over the weekend to “get more confrontational” if Chauvin was found not guilty — a comment Nelson used to request a mistrial. Cahill denied that motion but admitted the comments were controversial.
“I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result on this whole trial being overturned,” Cahill said.
The appeal could also focus on the photo that emerged online of a juror on the Derek Chauvin murder trial wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt.
Juror Brandon Mitchell, 31, who is Black, could be seen in the photo wearing the T-shirt with the phrases “Get your knee off our neck” and “BLM.” He is also wearing a “Black Lives Matter” hat in the photo.
Mitchell was the first member of the jury that convicted Chauvin of murdering George Floyd to publicly comment about the trial.
There was also an alternate juror in the trial that said the jury was afraid of a potential violent uproar, and that she would have ‘voted guilty’ because she ‘was concerned about people coming to my house if they were not happy with the verdict.’
Chauvin’s lawyers could also focus the appeal on challenging the third-degree murder charge, and some media pundits suggest the recent case of Mohamed Noor could be mentioned during the appeal.
Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, a black police officer, who was convicted of third-degree murder in the 2017 death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, filed an appeal earlier this year on that charge with the Minnesota Supreme Court.
In September, the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out the third-degree murder conviction of the former Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot Damond who had called 911 to report a possible rape behind her home.
Noor, who has already served around 30 months in prison, was re-sentenced to 51 months in prison after the appeal. With good behavior, Noor could be freed on supervised release by next summer.
Another case many experts bring up is the story of Tony Timpa which is a case that is strikingly similar to the George Floyd incident with one major difference. Both cases involved large men who’d taken drugs and died after they were pinned to the ground in the prone position. Neither man was armed.
Tony Timpa was 32 years old when he died in the custody of Dallas police officers in August 2016. Tony Timpa, like Floyd, was pinned face down to the ground, though Timpa was pinned for more than 14 minutes with an officer’s knee in the center of his back, not near his neck.
Timpa was apparently suffering from a mental health breakdown, and he had called 911 asking for help.
The Dallas County Medical Examiner ruled Mr. Timpa’s death was due to “excited delirium syndrome” attributed to cocaine found in his system and “physiological stress associated with physical restraint.” A pathologist retained by Mr. Timpa’s family said he died from asphyxia, just as the private pathologist retained by Floyd’s family ruled.
There was no national uproar after Timpa’s death, no cries for reform, and the city paid di not pay any settlement to Timpa’s family. A grand jury indicted the three Dallas officers on misdemeanor deadly conduct charges, but the district attorney dismissed them.
The key difference between the two public reactions is race. Floyd was black. Timpa was white. Unlike Timpa, Floyd had an extensive felonious criminal history and probably should have been in prison for a very long time avoiding the situation altogether.
According to a report from Business Insider in April, Feds planned to arrest Derek Chauvin in court and charge him with civil-rights violations if he were to be acquitted of murder. It is unclear if this plan is still in place if Chauvin is successful in his appeal.
In a side-by-side comparison between the Minneapolis police handbook and the picture of the officers retraining George Floyd, the images match up almost exactly.
The full-length body camera footage which was held under lock-and-key by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison for months until finally leaked by the Daily Mail, shows Floyd was resisting arrest for over 12 minutes before diving out of the police cruiser to the ground. During the footage, viewers can audibly hear Floyd complain about having trouble breathing multiple times before police even took him to the ground.
The following is from LawOfficer.com
1. The restraint used by Chauvin is permitted and trained by the Minneapolis PD.
Immediately following the incident, city and state officials tried to conceal the use of force policy that was in effect at the time. But the internet is forever. The use of force policy was found online and therefore could not be buried. The department’s use of force instructor testified that the technique used by Chauvin and the other officers was an approved technique. He also testified that officers are taught that if a subject can talk, he/she can breathe. Even the police chief had to concede to the technique on the stand. Along with the use of force instructor, a medical training instructor took the stand and testified that the members are trained to spot excited delirium.
2. There was zero strangulation.
We’ve been told that George Floyd was choked to death for close to a year now. The state attempted to claim that his carotid artery was interfered with which caused his death. They based all this on a witness who claimed to be an MMA fighter. This witness for some reason did not have to prove he was an expert in any field but the judge permitted his testimony. When later it was proven with the prosecution’s own witnesses that the carotid artery was never touched at any point, the state changed direction claiming that the pressure on his back caused him to asphyxiate.
This ‘expert witness’ was also allegedly filmed at a black lives matter riot smashing out the back window of a police cruiser, and later marching down the street with a local Black Panthers group who is known for terrorizing businesses in the area.
3. The state insisted that the best witness, Morries Hall, not testify.
Hall was seated in the front passenger seat of Floyd’s vehicle. Hall expressed concern that he could be charged with Floyd’s murder should he incriminate himself. Why? It has been argued that Hall sold Floyd the narcotics that he attempted to swallow as police approached. Those pills were later found partially chewed in the rear of the police vehicle with Floyd’s DNA and saliva on them. The pills tested positive for a mixture of fentanyl and methamphetamine.
The Fentanyl found in Floyd’s system contained up to four times the amount known to kill humans. Fentanyl essential puts the lungs to sleep. So why didn’t Floyd look sleepy like a typical opiate overdose? Because he also had methamphetamine in his system. Methamphetamine spikes the heart rate. So while his heart and mind were racing, his lungs were coming to a complete stop. The state was so concerned that their very own Medical Examiner didn’t “play the game”, that they produced three medical expert witnesses to discredit him. This is unprecedented.
Dr. David Fowler, a former Maryland chief medical examiner said the fentanyl and methamphetamine in Floyd’s system, Floyd’s major heart issue, and possibly carbon monoxide poisoning from auto exhaust, were contributing factors in his death.
Fowler listed a multitude of factors or potential ones: Floyd’s narrowed arteries, his enlarged heart, his high blood pressure, his drug use, the stress of his restraint, the vehicle exhaust, and a tumor or growth in his lower abdomen that can sometimes play a role in high blood pressure by releasing “fight-or-flight” hormones.
Fowler said all of those factors could have acted together to cause Floyd’s heart to work harder, suffer an arrhythmia, or abnormal rhythm, and suddenly stop.