Derek Chauvin Juror Speaks out, Raises Questions

Court TV via AP, Pool

The trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who knelt on George Floyd for nine minutes, has ended with him found guilty on all charges. That includes the second-degree murder charge, which required killing Floyd while in the process of a felony.

(related Guilty or Innocent, the Chauvin Trial Was a Travesty We Should All Reject)

Now, we are hearing from one of the jurors who was experiencing the day-to-day chaos going on outside the courthouse and in the media. Alternate juror (see below for why the designation of alternate is irrelevant here), Lisa Christenson sat down with Lou Raguse to discuss her views and some of the issues she faced.

Of note here is that Christensen did not know she was an alternate juror until it came time for deliberation. Thus, everything she had to deal with, the other jurors dealt with. Not being able to get home, seeing the protests and rioting, and the pressure she describes feeling were things all jurors had to experience and react to.

This raises a lot of questions for me. While the jury may have acted completely independently of everything they were seeing and hearing throughout the trial, human beings are human beings. This alternate juror specifically described not wanting to see more rioting if they didn’t reach a guilty verdict. And to reiterate, she did not know she was an alternate throughout the trial, which means there was no specific circumstance that made her experience different than the others who ultimately deliberated for 10 hours.

Now, none of this is completely dispositive in the sense that we know for sure the jurors came to a conclusion based on outside pressure. But it does make the judge look really inept for not granting the change of venue, in my opinion. These issues were readily apparent, and when you have jurors unable to even go home because there’s so much going on outside, that is going to weigh on at least some of them. These kinds of comments from a juror will also be more fodder during the appeal.

As I’ve shared before, my personal opinion is that Chauvin was guilty of manslaughter. That charge is very broad and did not require proving that Chauvin’s actions were the singular cause of Floyd’s death. At the point Chauvin was told that Floyd had passed out and he still stayed on him, the case for negligence was strong.

With that said, I don’t see the 2nd-degree and 3rd-degree applying (especially 3rd-degree) nor how the jury came to the conclusion Chauvin was guilty on those counts by simply looking at the evidence. The question for those charges was not just “did Chauvin contribute to Floyd’s death.”

When a trial was this high-profile, every attempt to protect the integrity of the system should have been taken. If this trial didn’t warrant a change of venue and sequestering the jury throughout the trial, both legal options for a judge, then what trial ever will? I simply do not understand how taking every precaution wasn’t warranted here.