Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ call for ‘more confrontational’ protests if former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin is not convicted in the death of George Floyd may have given the defense grounds to appeal and overturn a guilty verdict.
The possible consequences of the California Democrat’s words were raised by Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill on Monday afternoon as Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson again motioned for a mistrial. Nelson argued that there was no way the jury remained untainted given the massive publicity surrounding the case, topped off by Waters’ remarks.
‘Now that we have US representatives threatening acts of violence in relation to this trial it’s frankly mind-blowing’, Nelson said.
‘I grant that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned’, Cahill told Nelson.
‘I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case. They should respect a co-equal branch of government. Their failure to do so I think is abhorrent’, Cahill continued. ‘But I don’t think it has prejudiced us with additional material that would prejudice this jury’.
The judge said that the jury had been advised not to watch the news and trusts that they followed instructions. He concluded that ‘a congresswoman’s opinion really doesn’t matter a lot’.
Waters created an uproar when she spoke at a protest on Saturday in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb where 20-year-old black man Duante Wright was fatally shot by a white cop on April 11.
‘I hope we get a verdict that says guilty, guilty, guilty,’ Waters said of Chauvin’s trial. ‘And if we don’t, we cannot go away. We’ve got to stay on the street. We get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business’.
Waters’ statement set off a wave of criticism from fellow lawmakers, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended her and said she did not need to apologize.
On Monday night, Waters responded to attacks from Republicans by bringing up Cahill’s remark.
‘The judge said my words don’t matter’, she said.
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