The Minnesota judge overseeing former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial told the defense Monday that Democratic California Rep. Maxine Waters’ recent comments regarding the verdict may spark an appeal that could “result in this whole trial being overturned.”
Chauvin’s trial is in the hands of the jury after weeks of testimony from both prosecutors and the defense team. After closing arguments, Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson brought up Waters’ commentary to protesters in Minneapolis. She told them to “get more active” and be “more confrontational,” adding that she believes Chauvin is guilty of murder.
Nelson noted that the jury had not been sequestered and referred to Waters’ comments as “threatening acts of violence” amid the case. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill admitted that her comments may give the defense a reason to appeal, going on to speculate that the entire trial could be overturned because of it.
“I will give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” Cahill noted. (RELATED: ‘Get More Active’: Maxine Waters Calls On Daunte Wright Protesters To Show The World That They ‘Mean Business’)
Ultimately, Cahill denied the defense’s request for a mistrial and expressed hope that elected officials wouldn’t discuss the trial. He called the “failure to” discuss the case “in a respectful … manner” “abhorrent,” but ultimately said he didn’t believe her opinion mattered “a whole lot.”
“This goes back to what I have been saying from the beginning: I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case especially in a manner that it is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch at our function,” Cahill said. “I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution to respect the coequal branch of government. The failure to do so, I think, is abhorrent, but I don’t think it is prejudiced with additional material that would prejudice this jury.”
“They have been told not to watch the news, I trust they are following those instructions and that there is not in any way a prejudice to the event beyond the articles that we are talking specifically about the facts of this case. A congresswoman’s opinion really doesn’t matter a whole lot, anyway, so motion for mistrial is denied,” he continued.