This Is Not The Statement Of A Juror In A “Fair Trial” [Updated]

This is the first crack in the dam, and there will be more. I was certain this was coming.

Brandon Mitchell, a black, 31-year-old high school basketball coach on the jury that convicted Derk Chauvin, spoke to the Wall Street Journal saying that “staying anonymous wouldn’t help push for change.” If he wants Chauivin to say convicted, he should have kept quiet. From the interview (WSJ has a paywall—sorry):

Mitchell said he was pulled over for no reason by Minneapolis police dozens of times in his early 20s, usually driving his mother’s aging Chrysler Sebring. He said he has always told his players to follow the checklist his mother gave him during these encounters. Take your hat off; announce what you’re doing; be polite; do what you’re told.

Then Mitchell tells the Journal that serving on the jury made him see it was wrong that a person should be so afraid that a police officer could do them harm that they needed to change their behavior, adding,

“That’s also part of the reason why I’m speaking up now because that is a narrative that is horrible…So somebody follows directions or not, they don’t deserve to die. That’s completely ridiculous.”

THEN Mitchell says he “related” to Floyd, saying,

“I just related to it too much.Being big, you know, former athlete and all these things—it just, it really just hit home… It just felt like something that easily could have been me or anybody else that I know.”

Good thinking there, Coach! And America, welcome to the jury system.

Rueful observations in random order:

  • It’s a good thing Mitchell was an athlete, because his brain is more than a little underdeveloped. The absence of critical thinking in his statements is horrifying
  • A coach tells blacks to be polite and do what they are told in encounters with police because that’s how all citizens should act in encounters with police. If coaches tell their players to do this because they should be afraid of police because they are black, then that attitude poisons the advice. All citizens should be “afraid” to resist arrest because that gets them in more trouble, and should. Mitchell’s comments are incoherent: he thinks that blacks should believe they can resist arrest with impunity? That makes law enforcement impossible.
  • So one juror, the only one we have heard from, believed that Floyd was deliberately killed by Chauvin? The evidence doesn’t support that.
  • Mitchell’s comments show the quality of thinking you get on a jury for a complex case when you can only use people who pay little or no attention to the world around them. A juror whose thinking is this muddled is unqualified.
  • He wasn’t a juror to “push for change.” He was on a  jury to evaluate the evidence in a single case. Everything he mentioned in the interview—his “relating” to Floyd, his interactions with police—is, or should have been, irrelevant to that jury’s deliberations. Obviously, they weren’t in his eyes.
  • Was that account of his bad experiences with police on his juror questionnaire?
  • His comments made me see a flashing neon sign in my head reading, “Ineffective assistance of counsel!” How was this guy allowed on the jury by the defense, or for that matter, the judge?

Addendum: a photo has surfaced of Mitchell wearing a BLM tee shirt (“Knee off our neck!”) in 2020:

16 thoughts on “This Is Not The Statement Of A Juror In A “Fair Trial” [Updated]

  1. I think that “Chauvin” should appear in the third bullet-point; replacing the second “Floyd” maybe?

    If this juror did not reveal his earlier interactions with the police, or his admonitions to this players on the juror disclosure papers, who would prosecute him for perjury? Minnesota DOJ? US DOJ? They have already created a perjury free-fire zone.

  2. This is, tragically, exactly what we should’ve (and probably, mostly did) expect from several members of this jury. First of all, educated people are often employed in positions where jury service can be an expensive proposition. Yes, it is a duty all of us should be proud to perform, but we also have obligations to our family, our employer, our customers as well. Because of this, the quality of juror often found, even in high-profile cases, tends to be lower than anyone would like. Very often, they are either unemployed or under-employed.

    Second, this jury came from a profoundly biased population of jurors, and there was no way a defense lawyer could weed out enough biased jurors to ensure a fair trail. The judge refused a change of venue using the “this case is so widely publicized that any jury pool would likely suffer from the publicity defect” argument, which even while true, ignores the political realities of this case.

    Rereading’s commentary on this juror (evidently #52), where the author observed:

    Interestingly, #52 had written in his juror questionnaire that he didn’t believe anyone intended for Floyd to die that day, but nevertheless the fact that Floyd did die suggested that something ought to be changed moving forward. He also recognized that there could be a thought process on the part of the officers that made their conduct reasonable, despite the negative outcome.

    That doesn’t exactly square with what he said in your third point above, but perhaps the prosecution persuaded him.

    I really have little to add to your commentary, I think you did a great job of making most of the points, so I don’t need to reiterate them.

    • If this case couldn’t get a change of venue, then no case ever could.
      The error in the judge’s logic is that the jurors were worried about their own houses burning if they voted wrong. If they had moved the trial to some small town across the state, that part of the worry wouldn’t be there. Of course no town would want that case.

  3. Jack, you say : “A juror whose thinking is this muddled is unqualified.”

    Do you want to fix this …… say by requiring jurors to demonstrate an ability for rational thinking in selection, or to show suitable ‘qualifications’?

    This sounds a long way from the conventional view of what a jury should be doing, naive though this may be.

    This unfortunate interview underlines for me the case for keeping jury deliberations secret.

  4. Was Officer Chauvin entitled to a jury of his peers or was that entitlement bestowed upon George Floyd?

  5. How could any person in his right mind see the information on this juror and actually believe that he was “impartial”?

    On a general point, why do so many black people believe they are unique in getting “the talk” on how to act in encounters with officers? As a white male from a moderately “privileged” background, one thing I was taught (as were my friends), even before driving age, was to be polite and non-confrontational in any encounter with law enforcement, no matter the circumstances. The heat from getting speeding tickets was bad enough; I had no desire to find out what might result if word got back about any additional misbehavior. God knows what would have happened if I had tried something like a “My daddy can get you fired….” gambit.

    That Mitchell considers that he and his would have to “change their behavior” to act reasonably with the police maybe says a lot about why these conflicts sometimes veer out of control when someone from their group is involved.

  6. The justifications for throwing out the convictions because of the lack of a genuine fair trial are beginning piling up one at a time.

    I think it was virtually impossible for Chauvin to get anything close to a fair trial, especially in Minneapolis but it’s quite likely he couldn’t have gotten a fair trail anywhere in the United States of America and maybe not anywhere in the world. When someone cannot get a fair trial because of blanketed propaganda specifically against the defendant and a year long nation-wide trail of protests and violent riots directly associated with the case, trying him under those conditions is both wrong and unconstitutional.

    The murder convictions are a perfect example of hateful vigilante mob “justice” being forced upon a defendant and we in the United States of America are supposed to be above such hateful vigilante bull shit. An appeals court needs to throw out the unconstitutional convictions and Chauvin needs to be put in the witness protection program, his identity changed and he should be physically moved out of the USA.

    Innocent until proven guilty was non-existent for Chauvin in this case. Real justice was NOT served and the United States of America justice system completely failed Chauvin, all we got was a theatrical show trial with a predetermined line up of convictions. If they had added first degree intentional homicide to the list of charges, I’m pretty darn certain the jury would have convicted Chauvin of that too.

    Personally, I think Chauvin is guilty of 2nd Degree Manslaughter but also I think Chauvin needs to be set free because of a year long constant onslaught of anti-Chauvin propaganda and mob vigilantism across the USA making it literally impossible for him to actually receive a fair trial. The intentional actions that the protesters, the violent mobs and the media have taken over the last year to convict Chauvin in the court of public opinion have literally destroyed Chauvin’s right to get a fair trial violating his rights and those actions are going to backfire and it’s what will set Chauvin free in the end.

    Innocent until proven guilty is not a meaningless moral platitude that can be tossed aside in favor of mob justice in the court of public opinion.

    • There’s still Biden’s “Justice” Department… reportedly waiting in the wings to snatch Chauvinism and charge him with a civil rights violation if he had been found not guilty. That sort of thing, as well as the multiple “almost but not quite the same thing” charges already tried, often seem designed to skirt the spirit of the proscription against double jeopardy. It’s another thing that tends to make the public not always respect the law or lawyers.

  7. I don’t think it’s fair to put this juror’s slipping through voir dire down to “ineffectiveness” on Mr. Nelson’s part. He was facing a steady stream of potential jurors who had been indoctrinated by the media coverage of the incident, and the judge was passing several jurors who could reasonably have been dismissed for cause. Facing a dwindling number of peremptory strikes, he had to pick his battles.

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