Prospective jurors in George Floyd's murder trial sent questionnaire

Prospective jurors in George Floyd’s murder trial are sent a 16-page questionnaire asking how many times they watched the video of his death and if they took part in BLM protests

  • Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao face a trial
  • Chauvin is accused of murdering George Floyd, 46, on May 25 in Minneapolis
  • Prospective jurors were asked to reveal their opinions on Black Live Matter

Prospective jurors in George Floyd’s murder trial were sent a 16-page questionnaire asking how many times they watched the video of his death, it has been revealed.

They were asked if they took part in Black Lives Matter protests in the questionnaire filed to Minnesota District Court Tuesday.

Four former Minneapolis Police officers accused of contributing to Floyd’s death on May 25 are up for trial in three months.

The trial of Derek Chauvin, 44, Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34, is scheduled for March 2021. 

Revelations about the trial’s questionnaire come after Judge Peter Cahill upheld his decision to livestream the trial last Friday.

Prospective jurors in George Floyd’s (pictured) murder trial were sent a 16-page questionnaire asking how many times they watched the video of his death, it has been revealed 

They were asked if they took part in Black Lives Matter protests in the questionnaire (pictured) filed to Minnesota District Court Tuesday

One question said: ‘Did you, or someone close to you, participate in any of the demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death?

‘If you participated, did you carry a sign? What did it say?’

Prospective jurors were also asked if they had suffered an injury or property damage during the protests following Floyd’s death.

The final question of the first section – in bold – said: ‘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?’

A judge upheld a previous ruling that will allow the trial of the four former Minneapolis police officers to be videoed  The defendants are pictured above (clockwise from top left): Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Keung, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane

Derek Chauvin (pictured in court on September 11 in a court drawing in the center) is charged with murdering George Floyd, the 46-year-old African American whose death in May sparked nationwide protests

The questionnaire goes on to question in detail what prospective jurors’ primary source of news is and what social media they engage with.

Jury questionnaires are generally used to help prosecutors and defense attorneys understand more about the people who may serve on the panel.

Jurors may be questioned in court in more detail after filling out the questionnaire in a process known as voir dire.

One of the questions said: ‘Have you, or someone close to you, ever helped support or advocated in favor of or against police reform?’

Another said: ‘How favorable or unfavorable are you about Black Lives Matter?’

And the following question said: ‘How favorable or unfavorable are you about Blue Lives Matter?’

The questionnaire predicted ‘that jury selection will last from March 8, 2021 to March 26, 2021’. 

Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter.  

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill (pictured)

Lane, Kueng and Thao are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Last Friday Judge Peter Cahill reaffirmed that he would allow video coverage due to immense global interest in the case as well as protecting the defendants’ Sixth Amendment rights and the public and media’s First Amendment rights. 

Cahill also cited the size of the courtrooms and ‘unique and unprecedented situation’ brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic as an other reason.

Last month state prosecutors had argued that recording audio and visuals of the trial would violate court rules and scare away potential witnesses.

Attorney General Keith Ellison´s office, which is leading the prosecution, asked that Cahill rescind his previous ruling or consider reducing outside access.

But Cahill declined to modify his original ruling, writing that although he had granted more extensive video coverage than allowed in court rules, he is permitted to modify the rules ‘in any case to prevent manifest injustice’, as reported in The Minneapolis Star Tribune. 

He added: ‘Without question, deprivation of the constitutional rights that are the hallmarks of a public criminal trial would be a “manifest injustice”.’ 

Floyd’s death sparked nationwide and global protest over racial justice. A man wearing a face mask is pictured holding a sign near a burning vehicle at the parking lot of a Target store

‘The only real issue then, is whether there is a reasonable alternative to televising the trial that would vindicate the defendants’ Sixth Amendment rights and the First Amendment rights of the public and the press… 

‘The Court concludes that televising the trial is the only reasonable and meaningful method to safeguard the Sixth and First Amendment rights implicated in these cases.’

A coalition of media organizations had requested camera access, arguing that cameras would increase transparency, especially during the pandemic.

One of the Hennepin County Government Center’s largest courtrooms has been remodeled to adhere to social distancing requirements following the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

As a result, the public gallery has been removed, and only one seat in the courtroom remains that is not used by a trial participant. 

If the trial is televised, a technician will occupy the chair.

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