Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill has slammed threatening comments from Representative Maxine Waters on the case of Derek Chauvin as “abhorrent,” and suggested they could be used as evidence on any appeal.
After the jury in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin were led away for deliberations earlier today, Eric Nelson, the lawyer for Mr Chauvin, who stands accused of the murder of George Floyd, filed a motion for the judge to dismiss the case based on media reports from this last weekend, including comments from Representative Maxine Waters on the case.
“This is guilty for murder. I don’t know whether it’s third degree, but as far as I’m concerned it’s first degree murder,” said Waters. The camera man then asked Waters what she believed should be done to make sure the legal system understands their demands for a successful murder conviction. She replied that, should Chauvin not be convicted for first degree murder, then “we gotta stay on the streets, we gotta get more active, we got to get more confrontational, we got to make sure they know we mean business.”
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) to BLM protesters in Brooklyn Center, MN:
“[Protestors] got to stay on the street and get more active, more confrontational. They’ve got to know that we mean business.” pic.twitter.com/GLIPoLwZnd
— Bree A Dail (@breeadail) April 18, 2021
“An elected official, a United States congressperson was making… threats against the sanctity of the jury process, threatening and intimidating the jury, demanding that if there’s not a guilty verdict then there would be further problems,” Nelson noted. “Now we have U.S. Representatives threatening acts of violence in relation to this specific case, it’s mind boggling to me Judge.” Given that the jury was not sequestered, he argued, “there is a high probability that the jury has seen these comments.”
Nelson also argued that there have been two fictional television shows that specifically involved reference to the trial of Chauvin, and the reactions of characters to the case. “It is impossible to stay away from it,” Nelson argued, and moved for a mistrial based on the fact that the jury was only told not to watch the news involving this case.
Judge Cahill agreed with Nelson in some respects, saying that Waters may have given Chauvin’s defense team “something on appeal that may have resulted in this whole trial being overturned.” Cahill said that Nelson was welcome to supplement the record with whatever media reports on Waters’s comments he wished to do so, describing them as “abhorrent,” saying that he wished elected officials would “stop talking about this case”:
I’m aware that Congresswoman Waters was talking specifically about this trial, and about the unacceptability of anything less than a murder conviction, and talking about being confrontational… I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that’s disrespectful to the rule of law, and to the judicial branch and our function.
I think if they want to give their opinions they should do so in a respectful [way] and in a manner that’s consistent with their oath to the constitution, to respect the co-equal branches of government. Their failure to do so is abhorrent.
However, Cahill denied the motion for a mistrial, on the basis that he trusts that the jury has been following his instructions not to watch the news. “A congresswoman’s opinion really doesn’t matter a whole lot,” he concluded.
National File reported that Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene will be introducing a resolution to expel Waters from Congress for her comments, especially noting that her rhetoric may have incited a rioter shooting at a National Guard officer in Minneapolis on Sunday. “Representative Waters is a danger to our society,” Green wrote.