Minneapolis, MN – Day two of jury selection in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin ended with five of the 12 jurors empaneled.
The judge will also have attorneys select an additional two prospective jurors to act as alternates should any of the original 12 be unable to complete their term of jury service, Newsweek reported.
They are only empaneling two extra jurors instead of the usual four because of spacing issues due to social-distancing guidelines, KARE reported.
The trial was scheduled to begin on Monday but jury selection was delayed until Tuesday after an appeals court ruled on Friday that Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill had erred when he dismissed the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin.
Prosecutors asked for a delay in starting the trial while defense attorneys made arguments as recommended by the appeals court, but Cahill ruled that jury selection could begin while they sorted out the final charges or until the court of appeals ruled otherwise.
Experts have said it would be easier for prosecutors to get a conviction on the third-degree murder charge, WCCO reported.
Chauvin is currently charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The entire trial is being broadcasted live and viewers can watch the judge, the attorneys, and the defendants while jury selection progresses; however, jurors cannot be seen, nor are they identified by anything other than their assigned juror numbers.
Three jurors were chosen on Tuesday, WCCO reported.
Cahill gave defense attorneys 15 peremptory challenges they can use to exclude jurors without giving a reason, Newsweek reported.
He gave prosecutors nine peremptory challenges they can exercise.
Attorneys may challenge as many jurors for cause as they want, according to Newsweek.
But midway through the day on March 9, prosecutors raised a Batson challenge and complained to the judge that the defense had been striking jurors based on race after Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, struck the third prospective juror, KARE reported.
The Batson rule says that it is unconstitutional for attorneys to use a peremptory challenge to exclude jurors based solely on their race, Newsweek reported.
Prosecutors raised a Batson challenge based on the fact that Nelson had just struck a Hispanic male after earlier striking a Hispanic female, KARE reported.
Cahill heard the challenge and ruled that the defense attorney had valid reasoning to dismiss the third prospective juror, who had preconceived notions about the case and didn’t seem to understand the concept of presumption of innocence.
A number of potential jurors expressed firm opinions on the death of Floyd or specifically about Chauvin’s role in it, and several of them said they could not set aside their already-formed opinions to base their decision on the evidence presented at trial.
Juror #2, a white Jewish man in his 20s to 30s, talked about visiting the memorial at the intersection where Floyd died was the first person seated on the jury, KARE reported.
Prosecutors used a peremptory challenge to strike Juror #8 after he expressed negative thoughts about Black Lives Matter and positive associations with Blue Lives Matter.
Juror #9, described as a woman of color in her 20s or 30s, has a relative who is a police officer in northern Minnesota and was the second jury member empaneled, WCCO reported.
Juror #17, described as a 19-year-old biracial male, was excused for cause after he admitted he didn’t trust police officers and was biased against members of law enforcement.
Before he was dismissed, the prospective juror told Cahill he didn’t think he could concentrate on the trial because he struggled to concentrate in school, and he repeatedly said he didn’t want to be a jury member.
Juror #19, a white man in his 30s, was added to the jury even after he said he had a “somewhat negative” opinion of Chauvin because he hadn’t tried to resuscitate Floyd, KARE reported.
He also said he had a friend who was a Minneapolis police K9 officer.
The first juror empaneled on Wednesday said he had seen questionable use of force on the television show “Cops,” had a favorable response to Black Lives Matter and a negative association with Blue Lives Matter, WCCO reported.
He said he believes athletes should be allowed to kneel for the National Anthem and volunteered to move the date of his May 1 destination wedding if necessary to serve on the jury.
“If we have to pivot, we have to pivot,” the juror said.
Prosecutors struck Juror #23, a white woman in her 60s, after she said she thought the protests and riots in the city had “painted Minneapolis in a poor light,” WCCO reported.
She also said she thought Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter should both change their slogans to All Lives Matter.
The defense struck Juror #26, an Asian man with an accent, after he said the Floyd case was personal to him and he had taken his family to visit the memorial where Floyd died, WCCO reported.
He posted pictures of the pilgrimage to social media and said he donated money to help clean-up and relief efforts after the riots.
Juror #27, a black man in his 30s who immigrated to the United States 14 years ago, became the fifth juror seated on the panel, WCCO reported.
He told the court that the police in his neighborhood make him feel safe but said he’d never actually had to call them.
The defense used a peremptory strike to cut Juror #28 after he said he and his family were advocates for police reform and he had a “very negative” opinion of the defendant, WCCO reported.
Prosecutors struck Juror #29, a white, female attorney in her 30s, who said she volunteered helping prisoners in law school and felt that police officers didn’t always get enough respect.
The second day of jury selection ended with Juror #30, who admitted he had logged onto the livestream of jury selection on Tuesday and watched on two occasions as the attorneys asked questions and the prospective jurors answered.
He wrote on his juror questionnaire that “Despite calls for help of ‘I can’t breathe’ from Floyd, it seems Derek murdered Floyd,” WCCO reported.
The juror also referenced a “chokehold which resulted in death” in the answers on his juror questionnaire and suggested social workers should respond to some calls instead of police.
He also said he thought the Minneapolis Police Department should be defunded and those resources should be put toward social projects.
Juror #30 said he donated money to groups who were actively trying to defund the police and he strongly agreed that minorities are treated unfairly by the justice system.
On his juror survey, he called Blue Lives Matter “well-intentioned but misguided” and “racist.”
Nelson ultimately used a peremptory challenge to dismiss Juror #30.
Cahill said he planned to vet an additional nine jurors on Thursday, WCCO reported.
Jury selection was expected to take up to three weeks.