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Derek Chauvin Files His Own Appeal Of Conviction, Sentence In George Floyd's Murder

Originally published Sept. 23, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd, filed his own 11th-hour appeal Thursday.

Chauvin was convicted in April of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death on Memorial Day of 2020. He was sentenced to 22-and-a-half years in prison.

In the filing, Chauvin states he is out of money and "unrepresented by legal counsel in connection with the appeal." He said he was denied representation by a public defender, and is asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to review that decision. He also said the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis no longer represents him now that he was convicted.

Eric Nelson represented Chauvin in state court and is currently listed as his counsel for the federal civil rights case, in which Chauvin has pleaded not guilty.

Late Thursday, Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over Chauvin's trial, considered Chauvin "pauper status," which would mean he would be exempt from having to pay court costs and filing fees. However, on Friday that order was denied.

Attorney Joe Tamburino, who was not affiliated with Chauvin's case, told WCCO Thursday evening that it's very unusual Chauvin would not have his trial attorney file the appeal on his behalf.

"He's been denied a public defender. He's in prison. He's in Oak Park Heights for the next 22-plus years," Tamburino said. "I don't know why that was denied."

Derek Chauvin Speaks
Derek Chauvin during his sentencing hearing on June 25, 2021 (credit: CBS)

Here are the allegations Chauvin made in his appeal:

  • The court allegedly "abused its discretion" when denying the defense's motion for both a change of venue, sequestration of the jury for the entire trial, a continuance, and a new trial.
  • The alleged "prejudicial prosecutorial misconduct" committed by state prosecutors.
  • The court's decision to allow Morries Hall, who was with Floyd the night of his death, to not testify.
  • The court's decision to deny the presentation of "cumulative evidence with respect to use of force."
  • The court's order for state prosecutors "to lead witnesses on direct examination."
  • The court's alleged failure of making an official record of sidebar conferences throughout the trial.
  • The court's alleged failure of not allowing the defense to strike "clearly biased jurors during voir dire."
  • The court's allowance of the added third-degree murder charge.
  • The court's decision to limit and "undercut" the admission of Floyd's May 6, 2019 arrest.
  • The court's denial of the defense's motion for a Schwartz hearing.
  • The court's denial of the defense's "post-verdict motion for a new trial due to juror misconduct."

Chauvin also pleaded not guilty last week to a federal charge of allegedly violating the civil rights of a teen in a 2017 case, which involved a restraint that was similar to the one he used on Floyd.

Chauvin, who is white, knelt on the neck of Floyd, who was Black, for almost 10 minutes. Body camera and surveillance footage submitted in court showed Floyd laying face down on the street, begging for air and not resisting arrest as Chauvin was on top of him.

Footage also showed two of the other three former officers with Chauvin on the night of Floyd's death -- J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane -- helping to restrain Floyd. Kueng is seen knelling on Floyd's back, while Lane holds Floyd's legs. The third officer, Tou Thao, is seen dealing with bystanders at the scene, and preventing them from intervening.

All three men also pleaded not guilty to federal civil rights charges. They face state charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter, with their joint trial scheduled to start in March of next year.

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