Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) made a statement — while jurors in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin were not yet sequestered — which demanded street confrontations unless Chauvin were found guilty of murder. The trial judge correctly suggested that any conviction in the case might ultimately be thrown out on appeal, based on what Waters said. He condemned Waters' remarks in the strongest terms, but he did not have the courage to grant a defense motion for a mistrial. Had he done so, that almost certainly would have led to riots — which would have been blamed on the judge, not on Rep. Waters. So he left it to the court of appeals, months in the future, to grant a new trial -- which he should have granted.
The Minnesota appellate courts might not reverse the conviction but the United States Supreme Court well might, as they have done in other cases involving jury intimidation.
The judge in the Chauvin trial made a serious error in not sequestering the jury during the entire trial. Instead, he merely told them not to read or watch the news. That is not nearly enough; even if the jurors scrupulously followed the judge's narrow instruction, it is inconceivable that some of them did not learn what was going on outside the courtroom from friends, family, media and TV shows that were not "the news." It is safe to assume that many if not all of the jurors were fearful — either consciously or unconsciously —that a verdict other than the one desired by Waters and her followers would result in violence that threatens them, their homes, their businesses and their families.
Already, we have seen blood sprayed over the former home of a witness who testified for Chauvin; the defendant's lawyers have received threats. An aura of violence is in the air. Jurors breathe that same air, and the guilty verdict in this case — whether deserved or undeserved — should be scrutinized carefully by the appellate courts.
We must do a better job of insulating jurors from outside influences in racially charged cases. We must be certain that threats of intimidation do not influence jury verdicts. That certainty does not exist now in the Chauvin case, thanks largely to the ill-advised threats and demands of Maxine Waters and others.REad more here: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/17302/derek-chauvin-conviction-supreme-court