Judge weighs cameras in next trial over George Floyd’s death

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – A Minnesota judge will hear arguments on Monday whether to allow live video coverage of the upcoming trial of three former Minneapolis police officers who were accused of aiding and abetting the murder of George Floyd .

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill last year took the rare step of allowing live audiovisual coverage of the trial of the murder of former officer Derek Chauvin, making an exception to Minnesota courts’ usual rules. He cited the need to strike a balance to protect participants from COVID-19 against the constitutional requirement for a public test.

Now that the US has entered a new phase of living with the coronavirus, Cahill must decide whether to follow suit for testing beginning in June for former executives Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and Jay Alexander Kueng. be allowed access.

A coalition of media organizations, including the Associated Press, said in a brief filed Friday that it understood that Cahill planned to restrict video coverage, including livestreaming. The coalition said it believed the reasons included defense objections and the judge’s belief that their hands are bound by ordinary court rules “absent the dire circumstances caused by the pandemic.”

Thao, Lane and Kueng have been charged with both aiding and abetting the murder when Chauvin used his knee to pin Floyd, a black man, to the sidewalk for 9 1/2 minutes on May 25, 2020. used. Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, Lane grabbed his feet and Thao chased the audience back. The killing, which was recorded on video, sparked protests around the world and led to a national countdown on race.

Defense lawyers have raised concerns about the willingness of witnesses to testify. Minnesota court rules generally require the consent of all parties for audiovisual coverage of the hearing, with fewer restrictions for sentencing. From jury selection to his murder conviction to a 22 1/2-year prison sentence, Chauvin’s trial in Minnesota was entirely televised. People from all over the world joined the livestream.

Star Tribune Senior Managing Editor and Vice President Suki Dardian said, “I think the livestreaming of that trial enabled people here and around the world to see the inner workings of a system, one of the most important trials of our time. was handling one of them.” Minneapolis, which is part of the Media Coalition.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office initially opposed the installation of cameras in court for Chauvin’s trial, but now supports him for the upcoming trial of other officers.

“The Chauvin trial demonstrated the benefits of strong public outreach in this important case and proved that the Court can successfully navigate the concerns animating the state’s initial opposition to audio and video coverage,” prosecutors wrote last week. “The court’s admirable transparency inspired public confidence in the proceedings and helped ensure peace in Minneapolis and across the country.”

Due to federal court rules, live video coverage was not allowed for Thao, Lane and Kueng’s first trial this year, when all three were convicted of violating Floyd’s civil rights. Nor was permission granted for Chauvin’s federal case in which he pleaded guilty to civil rights violations. But it was allowed in the December state court trial of former Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter in the case of Deontay Wright’s death.

“Nothing bad things happened to deter critics, and we had a big advantage of giving the public the opportunity to observe the proceedings,” said Jane Kirtley, director of the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law. University of Minnesota, another coalition member.

An advisory committee of the Minnesota Supreme Court is considering whether to allow more video coverage of criminal proceedings. It has to release its report by July 1.

Cahill said in a letter to the committee that he had previously opposed cameras in criminal cases, but that his experience in Chauvin’s case changed his opinion, and he now believes they should be held at the discretion of the trial judge. Subject to, anticipated should be allowed.

Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu, who presided over Potter’s trial, told the Star Tribune in an interview that both the Potter and Chauvin trials convinced her that the cameras could be present without interference.

“I forgot they were there too,” Chu told the newspaper.

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