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Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison elevates charges against Derek Chauvin

Discussion in 'News & Current Events' started by ThatRobGuy, Jun 4, 2020.

  1. ThatRobGuy

    ThatRobGuy Programmer Extraordinaire Supporter

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    Minnesota charges three more officers over George Floyd killing and elevates Chauvin murder charge
    (and said that he's even considering elevating it to First-Degree Murder)


    I'd like to see that officer behind bars, but unless Ellison plans on personally trying this case himself, and feels he has an airtight case for it, I think they may be a big strategic blunder.

    Hopefully he's not making the same mistake we've seen others make in the past with regards to these sorts of cases...where they try to cater the charges to the level of public outrage rather than to cater the charges to the evidence on hand that can be proven in court.

    If it turns out this is another case of "overcharging" that ends in an acquittal (like we've seen in the past with similar cases), I think the country is in for a rough road in terms of unrest.

    There's a reason why a lot of legal analysts say that if the charge would've been manslaughter instead of second-degree murder, Zimmerman would've done 10 years in jail as opposed to walking out a free man like he did. (even the judge in that case made a proposal that the jurors in that case should've been able to consider manslaughter as a lesser charge --- trying to steer things in the right direction, overstepping bounds? perhaps...but none the less, the judge saw the writing on the wall, so to speak)


    Given that 3rd degree murder would be easily provable in this case (and carry a 25 year sentence which at Chauvin's age, would likely be most of the rest of his life), and that Murder-2 is going to be much harder to try (from a prosecution standpoint), is it a major blunder on the part of Ellison to elevate the charges to "prove how seriously he's taking it" for some short-term popularity, when it risks letting that killer cop get off completely free?
    (keeping in mind that trying a cop is already an uphill battle from a prosecution standpoint, so it's best not to try a charge that you don't have an airtight case for)

    Given that the difference between 3rd and 2nd degree murders in MN is 25 vs 40 years, and that under their statutes, 2nd degree murder is defined is qualified as

    a person can be charged with second-degree murder under two conditions. First, if the person “causes the death of a human being with intent to effect the death of that person or another, but without premeditation." Second, if that person "causes the death of a human being, without intent, while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense other than criminal sexual conduct in the first or second degree with force or violence or a drive-by shooting."

    ...compared to 3rd degree, which MN simply qualifies with

    “by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind without regard for life and without intent to kill."

    ...it seems like they're jeopardizing a slam dunk case for a 25 year sentence, in order to take a big gamble in order to try to get 40 years.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2020
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  2. Tanj

    Tanj Redefined comfortable middle class

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  3. iluvatar5150

    iluvatar5150 Well-Known Member

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    Can’t the prosecutor give the jury the option of convicting him on the lesser charge?

    Are we sure he’ll even opt for a jury? The Freddie Grey cops all went for bench trials.
     
  4. Hank77

    Hank77 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    They're going for this one above; while committing a felony assault.

    I agree with you that it seems risky but then maybe we don't know everything that they know.
     
  5. HARK!

    HARK! Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've heard that LEOs don't do well in prison. With the recognition that this story is getting, he would probably have a lot of enemies behind bars.

    He made a very big mistake. Let's pray for his family.
     
  6. ThatRobGuy

    ThatRobGuy Programmer Extraordinaire Supporter

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    I'm not familiar with MN laws in that regard. However, wasn't it prosecutor who wanted to go for Murder-3 in the first place?, Ellison elevated the charges.

    Kind of puts them in a tough spot doesn't it?

    Especially if, in Minnesota, the position of District Attorney is an elected one instead of an appointed one.

    If Ellison has gone out of his way to elevate the charges to accommodate public outrage, and the prosecutor turns around and vocalizes that they want to lessen the charges...that's going to make re-election very tough...no to mention, Ellison could just theoretically elevate them again.

    On one hand, they don't want to be known as the DA who was perceived as "going soft" on Chauvin by insisting that charges be lessened...on the other, if they lose this case (due to Ellison's elevation of the charges), it won't be Ellison who gets the blame, it'll be the unfortunate DA who had to try charges (that they obviously weren't comfortable charging him with in the first place) that gets blamed, along with "the system"...and we'll see more unrest and riots.


    If history is any teacher, over-charging in order to accommodate public outrage (instead of the charges you think you can prove).

    There have been numerous cases now where public pressure has been to go for Murder-2 as opposed to Murder-3 or manslaughter, and the cases have ended in acquittals.

    From a prosecutor's standpoint, catering charges to the level of public outrage instead of going for the charges you know you can prove is a "fool's errand".

    It's especially risky if they're not going with a jury trial. If Chauvin's lawyer is worth their salt at all, and knows that this is a case of over-charging, they'd be more than happy to go with a bench trial as they know your typical judge knows the law a lot better, and won't be as emotionally manipulated like your average jury can be.
     
  7. ThatRobGuy

    ThatRobGuy Programmer Extraordinaire Supporter

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    ...based on what we do know, it would seem that they're trying to accommodate public outrage rather than build the case they know they can win.

    Keith Ellison decides to step in, and elevate the charges after things like this started happening.
    Local organizers to circulate petition calling for recall of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman

    Based on everything I'm reading about the guy, Mike Freeman has a sterling track record in terms of case outcomes, as well as getting big wins (that have resulted in long jail sentences) against perpetrators of hate crimes...as well as against police who've engaged in wrongdoing.

    Seems to me like he knows what he's doing.

    He he evaluated the evidence and said the appropriate charge was Murder-3, I'm inclined to think he (who has 20+ years DA experience) has got a better grasp on that than Keith Ellison, who's had a track-record of allowing "appeal to political agenda" trump logic in many cases.

    If Keith Ellison is willing to personally try this case with those charges - and it sounds like he'll at least be involved (and not roll over on the assisting DA's and 'the system' if the case should happen to be lost), then I'm willing to come back and admit that I was wrong.

    However, if the Murder-2 case is lost when Murder-3 was easily winnable, then Ellison should be forced to publicly own that when it happens and not trot out some excuse about how the case outcome was 'evidence of the bias in the system'
     
  8. iluvatar5150

    iluvatar5150 Well-Known Member

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    If the jury has option to convict on a lesser charge, then I say go for it. If they don’t, then I agree - this seems like a foolish gamble.
     
  9. ThatRobGuy

    ThatRobGuy Programmer Extraordinaire Supporter

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    Seems like it's a jurisdiction level, and I can't find any indicators one way or the other about Hennepin county.

    However, I did find an interesting write up from a defense lawyer's website on that matter (granted, it's from SC, so the laws may be slightly different)

    upload_2020-6-6_18-18-6.png

    ...so, it seems like something that can be used as a strategic move by the defendant more than the prosecution. And it would appear there's at least some court precedent suggesting that the prosecution shouldn't be allowed to play the "let's go for a lesser charge" mid-trial if they see they're not winning their original charges.

    To that point, they list a case where a prosecution requested that the judge allow the jury to re-deliberate on a manslaughter charge after the jury had already came back with "not guilty" on a murder charge, the judge granted the request, and the defendant's attorney was able to successfully appeal that within a higher court.

    The inclusion of a lesser charge to be considered would seem that it's something that would have to come from a judge, or would have to come from a defendant. (for instance, if the defense knows their client is likely to be found guilty, and wants to request consideration on a lesser charge because they feel they can make a case that will result in a shorter sentence)
     
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  10. Ana the Ist

    Ana the Ist Aggressively serene!

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    Keith Ellison? The guy who organized rallies for the Nation of Islam? The guy who claimed to have cut ties with Farrakhan....but has repeatedly been photographed with him at various events as recently as 2014-2016??

    I had no idea he was prosecuting.

    Well well well...what an interesting story. A black man, killed by a possibly racist white cop, being prosecuted by a definitely racist black man.

    Imagine if this were a black cop who killed a white man and he was being prosecuted by a "former" KKK member who still hangs out with grand wizards on the side and he had the gall to call the cop racist. You think anyone would believe him?
     
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