Judge won’t change ‘trauma’ wording in Chauvin memo

Judge won’t change ‘trauma’ wording in Chauvin memo

Posted for: 🇺🇸 Kari ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

Tommy Wiita

Less than a week after Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison penned a letter asking the judge who oversaw former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial to remove or modify some language used in the sentencing memorandum, the Hennepin County Court decided they will not make any changes to the memorandum.

In the decision filed on Tuesday, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill stated his the letter submitted by the attorney general was “misperceived” on what the focus of the court was in this case. Cahill explained the focus was on Chauvin’s conduct towards George Floyd on May 25, 2020, “the basis upon which the jury found the defendant guilty of unintentional second-degree and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.”

Additionally, Cahill said the court neither “found nor wrote in the Sentencing Memorandum Opinion that the four minor eyewitnesses upon… were not traumatized.” According to the memo, the court wrote that “the evidence at trial did not present any objective indicia of trauma.”

In his letter, however, Ellison argued the wording used in the memo might minimize the experiences of the children present. The attorney general requested that the phrases “were free to leave the scene whenever they wished” and “were never coerced or forced by him or any of the other officers to remain a captive presence at the scene” be removed from the judicial opinion.

However, Cahill argued that claim, stating that the use of that language was to indicate to the jury that those were the facts of the case; the juveniles for whom Ellison wrote concerns about were, in fact, free to leave the scene and were never “coerced or forced by Chauvin” or any of the other three officers to stay at the scene and watch Floyd’s arrest.

“It is certainly possible that the witnesses experienced some level of emotional trauma from this incident, but the State failed to prove it,” Cahill wrote. He also said that while Ellison pointed to research that shows adults view Black girls as less innocent and less in need of protection, no evidence of that was presented prior to Chauvin’s sentencing.

“Be that as it may, it is the State that is injecting supposed racial presumptions in this case, not this Court,” Cahill wrote. He said his sentencing order never mentions the race or ethnicity of the girls. He said the youngest, who was 9 years old at the time, and her then-17-year-old cousin are Black, but the other two teenagers, who are now 18, are white.

“Whether ‘adultification’ of ‘Black girls’ is, as the State insists, ‘common in American society, including in the criminal justice system,’ this Court emphatically rejects the implication that it played any part in the Court’s sentencing decision,” Cahill wrote.

He also said that while Ellison complains that the court did not hold a separate sentencing hearing, prosecutors had a right to request one but did not.

Ellison’s office said Tuesday that it is reviewing the judge’s order.

To see the complete filing submitted on Tuesday, see below, or click here if on a mobile device.


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