George Floyd murder trial: Defense asks for location change, questionnaires to be thrown out

As the calendar flips to 2021, it is full speed ahead for what is sure to be an unprecedented murder trial in Minnesota with live, broadcast coverage of the proceedings.

The fate of four Minneapolis Police officers will be on the line in the deadly arrest of George Floyd on Memorial Day.

Currently, the trial is set to begin Mar. 8 but that could change given the pandemic and calls from the defense team to delay it until summer.

"With the world watching, America watching, you’re going to do everything you can," said Ryan Pacyga, a criminal defense attorney.

The attention has turned to a potential jury and whether or not the defendants can get a fair trial in Minneapolis.

Wednesday, J. Alexander Keung’s attorney, Tom Plunkett, filing a motion to toss a 14-page questionnaire that has already gone out to prospective Hennepin County jurors.

The document asked all sorts of questions about their knowledge of the case, whether or not they participated in any post-Floyd demonstrations, their feelings about Black Lives Matter and if they’ve ever been placed in a chokehold.

Plunkett argues the questionnaire does not "adequately explore juror and community bias." He wants it thrown out and a new jury pool selected. He is also asking again for the trial to be moved out of Minneapolis.Plunkett said the questionnaire being mailed is an issue, too, saying that the prospective jurors can talk to friends and amily about the case while continuing to see media coverage about it. 

Plunkett also argued that the following question is "leading": 

No matter what you have heard or seen about this case, and no matter what opinions you might have formed, can you put all of that aside and decide this case only on the evidence you receive in court, follow the law, and decide the case in a fair and impartial manner?

He said, "This type of question is more problematic because it is calculated to get socially desirable response and will entrench all potential jurors in their response depriving the defense of meaningful in person voir dire. Being the only question in bold print, it aggravates the problem by further by putting emphasis on the need for a socially desirable answer."

"I can’t think, in recent history, a case that probably calls for a change of venue more than this case. Just how many people have heard of the case and formed opinions," said Pacyga, who is not affiliated with any of the parties.

Wednesday, there was a new indication the defense may be eyeing Rochester, in Olmsted County, as an alternative venue.

One resident took to Twitter Tuesday to say she was contacted for a phone survey inquiring about whether or not she believed the former officers could get a fair trial in southern Minnesota.