Virginia Tech professor discusses delay in jury selection for Derek Chauvin trial

Blacksburg, Va. – The murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is on pause after jury selection was delayed Monday after a debate about adding another charge.

Chauvin pleads not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.

In October, a third-degree murder charge was dismissed but now it’s being debated after an appeals court ruled the trial judge should reconsider a motion to reinstate it.

With the death of George Floyd grabbing widespread attention, finding an unbiased jury could be difficult.

But Wat Hopkins, a Virginia Tech communications professor, said ignorance is more of a problem.

Hopkins said jurors can have an opinion but if they are willing to set it aside to fairly review the evidence and other components throughout the trial then it’s possible to attain the 12 jurors and four alternates.

He said ignorance is more of a problem because attorneys want the jurors to have some knowledge of the “sensationalized and polarized” case.

This high-profile case means attorneys will gain more peremptory challenges where attorneys can dismiss people without cause.

According to court documents, Chauvin’s defense team will have 15 peremptory challenges and the prosecution will have nine.

“That means we are going to have a long process because that means we are going to have more opportunities to dismiss jurors without stating a reason and then they start questioning someone else,” he said.

Jury selection is delayed till tomorrow and is expected to take three weeks.


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