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Brandon Mitchell was part of the jury that found Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd.
A recently released photo shows Mitchell attending a protest against police reform and wearing a BLM shirt.
Legal experts said they believed the photo would raise further questions in court.
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A recently released photo shows one of the jurors in Derek Chauvin’s trial wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt during a protest against police liability last summer, possibly complicating the guilty verdict of the former officer.
The photo in question shows Brandon Mitchell, or Juror 52, attending a rally in Washington, DC, in August, dubbed the “Get Off Our Necks” Pledge Walk. You can see it here.
The protest was tied to the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, and the shirt Mitchell wears in the photo features King’s likeness and includes the words “Get your knee off our neck” and “BLM.”
Several people tweeted that this suggested Mitchell was impartial as a juror.
Last month Mitchell and 11 other jurors convicted Chauvin of second degree murder, third degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, a black man whose officer knelt for several minutes .
Chauvin is currently awaiting his conviction in June and faces up to 40 years in prison for the most serious conviction, second degree murder.
Legal experts who spoke to the Star Tribune, CBS Minnesota and the Washington Post about the image said it would likely lead to questions in court, although they differed over a possible outcome.
Experts said the discovery of Mitchell’s photo could give Chauvin a stronger case for an appeal and possibly even a quashing of the trial.
Juror said he did not attend protests against police brutality
In their initial questionnaire, jurors were asked if they had participated in any< manifestations ou marches contre la brutalité policière qui ont eu lieu à Minneapolis après la mort de George Floyd >> and whether they or one of their relatives >> had taken part in demonstrations against the use of force or police brutality. . “
Mitchell told the Star Tribune that he answered “no” to both questions and felt he was “extremely honest” in answering the questionnaire.
But he made conflicting comments about the t-shirt, telling CBS Minnesota he was wearing it to reflect the events of 2020, not because he thought he was attending a demonstration solely focused on Floyd. But in his interview with the Star Tribune, he said he did not recall wearing or owning the shirt.
Mitchell said the August march was “not 100%” a march for Floyd, but a voter registration rally, according to his interviews with the Star Tribune and CBS Minnesota.
However, George Floyd’s brother and sister Philonise and Bridgett Floyd spoke at the event, hosted by Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN). Sharpton announced the march during the Floyd Memorial and has maintained close ties with Floyd’s legal team. He was present at last month’s press conference where the Floyd family and their legal team reacted to the Chauvin verdict.
NAN described the August march as “prompted by the protest movement that has arisen since the assassination of George Floyd by the police” to “demonstrate our advocacy for comprehensive reform of police accountability, the census and mobilization of voters for the November elections “.
Joseph Daly, professor emeritus at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, told the Star Tribune: “If [Mitchell] specifically, he was asked, “Have you ever been to a Black Lives Matter demo,” and he replied, “No”, to that I think that would be an important question that could be appealed. “
Civil rights attorney Brian Dunn told The Post an investigation could focus on whether Mitchell “lied or failed to provide full answers about whether he engaged in public activism or if he had any affiliations with BLM that went beyond just wearing the shirt. “
“If it is determined that the juror did not provide full disclosure to the defense, the question then becomes whether this lack of candor violated Mr. Chauvin’s right to a fair trial,” Dunn said.
“ It is really difficult to overturn a conviction ”
In general, experts said the photo would raise questions in court and may strengthen Chauvin’s appeal record. It could also lead to an annulment of the trial, although that is an extreme conclusion.
Experts who spoke to CBS Minnesota agreed that Mitchell should be questioned in what is called a Schwartz hearing, and that depending on his answers, a trial could be called off.
But law professor Rachel Moran told CBS Minnesota it would be difficult to overturn Chauvin’s conviction.
“It is really difficult to overturn a conviction, and the courts are particularly reluctant to interfere with the jury deliberation process,” Moran said.
Jury consultant Alan Tuerkheimer told the Post that Chauvin’s lawyer would likely use the photo to appeal, but the photo itself is not enough to dismiss the conviction.
Tuerkheimer said Mitchell could be interviewed to assess whether he lied on the questionnaire, had an agenda, or came to the case with his decision made.
“It could change the outcome; if there is something that makes him feel like he didn’t come, it could be a way for the judge to reconsider the case,” Tuerkheimer said .
Was Chauvin’s lawyer thorough?
It could also be that Chauvin’s defense attorney did not do a sufficient screening job for Mitchell.
Daly, the professor emeritus, told the Star Tribune that jurors are not expected to open their entire lives and list everything they have “ever done that may or may not be related to the case.” .
“It is the job of lawyers to seek out and find impartial jurors,” he said.
Insider reached out to the Minnesota attorney general’s office, defense attorney for Chauvin and Mitchell for comment.
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