Jury Selection And The Trial Of Derek Chauvin

Chauvin sitting with legal representative
William Anderson
March 19, 2021

As former police officer Derek Chauvin’s defense prepares for a trial the whole world will be watching, the question of jurors has become a central topic. The jury selection process is complicated, and what’s happening now shows how it can have major problems.

Chauvin’s defense has “struck” jurors from being selected, meaning they’ve used their power to remove people they thought would be biased. So far, some of that has been based on awareness about the case – including the settlement the Floyd family received – but this is a systemic issue.

The power to strike jurors can be abused. For example, Mississippi District Attorney Doug Evans systematically used his power to prevent Black jurors from serving. He did this over 70% of the time, for years! In Chauvin’s case, the issues are complicated.

The judge has removed jurors too, and the prosecution and the defense have agreed on some. But diversity is not necessarily guaranteed, although it’s considered important. Chauvin’s defense will act in his best interest, of course, which is why they want the trial moved or delayed.

One of the central problems here extends well beyond this case. The system is set up to protect and benefit police and reinforce white supremacy. It’s not set up to protect Black people; it’s set up to indict, confine, and execute us when possible. Fairness isn’t required – but racism is always present.

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