MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd will not be impacted by an extended hold on jury trials in Minnesota announced Friday.
Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea issued a statewide order effective February 1, 2021 that limits in-person activity in courthouses for an additional 45 days and keeps criminal jury trials on hold during that time.
A court spokesperson confirmed to FOX 9 that Chauvin’s trial has an exception to that order. The Chauvin trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection on March 8. The proceedings will be streamed live at fox9.com/live.
Earlier this week, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill denied the state’s motion to push back the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with George Floyd’s murder, due to public health concerns. Chauvin’s trial remains scheduled for March 8.
Prosecutors filed a motion asking Cahill to reconsider his ruling severing the trials of Chauvin and the other three former officers—Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane—charged in Floyd’s death. They argued all four cases should be rejoined and one trial should be held later this summer.
To make their case, they called upon University of Minnesota epidemiologist Dr. Mike Osterholm, who said in an affidavit that holding Chauvin’s trial in March could become a superspreader event and have "potentially catastrophic consequences for public health."
"We are keeping the doors to justice open in a manner that prioritizes health and safety," said a statement from Chief Justice Gildea. "Through online hearings, socially-distanced courtrooms, and our self-help centers, Minnesotans have had a place to turn to find support, resolve their disputes, and protect their rights during this unprecedented time."
Under the order, no new criminal jury trials will start until after March 15, 2021, unless the chief judge in the district where the trial is to be held grants an exception. Exceptions can be granted for criminal cases that meet three criteria, unless the chief judge determines that a trial cannot be held safely due to local conditions:
1. The defendant has requested a speedy trial.
2. The defendant is in custody
3. The case involves a felony or non-felony person crime
No in-person civil jury trials will be held before March 15, 2021, unless an exception is granted by the chief judge in the district where the trial will be held. The order does allow a civil jury trial to take place remotely if all parties and the judge agree to it.