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Chauvin prosecutors stand by ‘honest, forthright’ juror who wore ‘Get Your Knee off Our Necks’ shirt at rally

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Prosecutors in the Derek Chauvin murder case for the death of George Floyd defended a juror this week who wore a “Get Your Knee off Our Necks” shirt to a rally in Washington, D.C.  in part of an official motion.

Brandon  , formerly known as Juror52, publicly exposed his identity to further discuss the controversy surrounding the shirt and his voir dire given under oath as part of the jury selection process, according to Law & Crime.

Eric J. Nelson, Chauvin’s defense attorney, is working on his own motion to get Chauvin a new trial, and cites Mitchell obfuscating the wearing of the shirt and attending the rally as reason why Chauvin deserves a new trial. 

The prosecutors in the Chauvin trial submitted a 77 page motion this week which defends Mitchell despite the omission of his shirt and rally attendance during jury selection. 

Prosecutors argue that the juror was “honest and forthright” in the jury selection process.

More from Law & Crime:

“In over 69 written questions and nearly 45 minutes of testimony, Juror 52 extensively detailed his preexisting views on a range of issues and his prior impression of this case. In his motion, Defendant identifies just one question, which Defendant believes shows that Juror 52 was “untruthful and evasive.” But that highly-subjective question asked whether there was “anything else the judge and attorneys should know about you.” Nothing indicates that Juror 52 necessarily intended to mislead by answering “no,” especially in light of Juror 52’s fulsome answers to a range of other questions, including his favorable opinion of the Black Lives Matter movement, his concerns regarding police misconduct, and his statements about his prior views on this case.”

 

The prosecution is arguing that any questions surrounding Mitchell and his behavior are “purely speculative” and do not merit a new trial. 

During the jury screening process, Mitchell confirmed to officials that he could “follow the legal requirement not to hold [the] Defendant’s silence against him” and confirmed he would table “what [he] may have heard about any other information and only focus on what was presented in court” in a traditional agreement referred to as the “rehabilitation” of a potentially biased juror. 

This particular agreement from Mitchell is very important when the appeals court decides whether or not his pretrial bias impacted the verdict.

Appeals courts usually take juror’s at their word according to the Law & Crime Network. This fact will be critical as America waits to see if the court will rule that Mitchell was “untruthful and evasive” for remaining silent on his participation in a Washington, D.C. protest rally and the lack of mention of the BLM tee shirt.

The prosecution succinctly states, “Any fair reading of this record shows that Juror 52 honestly disclosed his views on a range of issues, including his impressions of Black Lives Matter, the criminal justice system, the case, and his desire to serve on this jury.”

The state maintains that the Nelson’s claims fall short of the establishment of “prima facie” required for a juror misconduct case to proceed. They also accused Nelson of “materially misstat[ing] the record” surrounding Mitchell’s answers and statements.

Nelson also raised other issues surrounding Mitchell and the jury as a whole, but Minnesota law prevents the post-conviction probing of the secrecy of jury deliberations.

The prosecutors deep dive in their analysis of Mitchell’s responses is seen below:

“In response to the very first question about his prior knowledge of the case, Juror 52 filled the entire page. He reported that he knew the incident had begun “with a fake bill or check,” that Mr. Floyd “ended up on the ground with Chauvin using his knee against Floyd’s neck to hold him in place,” that “Chauvin was on his neck for more than 8 min[utes],” and about public reporting regarding autopsies. Juror 52 also indicated that he had previously watched portions of the video of Mr. Floyd’s death 2-3 times, and that he had discussed the case with others. In response to a follow up question about the opinions he had expressed about this case, Juror 52 stated that he had wondered “why didn’t the other officers stop Chauvin.” 

“For a question about whether he had seen police use more force than necessary, he wrote: “In downtown Minneapolis[,] I’ve seen police body slam then mace an individual simply because they did not obey an order quick enough.”

“Nor did his responses, and his remarkable forthrightness, end there. Juror 52 indicated that he strongly agreed that “Blacks and other minorities do not receive equal treatment as whites in the criminal justice system,” that police officers are more likely to use force against black suspects, and that the criminal justice system is “biased against racial and ethnic minorities.” He wrote that he strongly disagreed that police “treat whites and blacks equally,” and that discrimination “is not as bad as the media makes it out to be.” He indicated that he somewhat agreed with the statement that ‘news reports about police brutality against racial minorities is only the tip of the iceberg.’

 

The prosecutors said Mitchell wrote that he had a “[v]ery favorable opinion” of Black Lives Matter.

“Black lives just want to be treated as equals and not killed or treated in an aggressive manner simply because they are black,” he purportedly wrote, adding that his feelings were neutral toward “Blue Lives Matter.”

When given an opportunity to respond to whether there was “anything else the judge and attorneys should know about you in relation to serving on this jury,” Mitchell said “no,” according to the prosecutors:

In response to the next—and final question—Juror 52 then wrote that he wanted to serve on the case “[b]ecause of all the protest  and every thing [sic] that happened after the event, this is the most historic case of my lifetime. Would love to be a part of it.”

 

The state’s full motion against the move for a new trial can be found here

Chauvin was found guilty of murder following the jury’s indictment in April 2021. The prosecution is working to avoid a retrial and secure a 30 year sentence for Chauvin while Nelson and his defense team are working towards a retrial of the case.

 

Kay Apfel

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