The 15 people chosen for the jury—two of whom will serve as alternates and one of whom will be let go—include three white men, six white women, three Black men, one Black women, and two multiracial women. They were questioned at length by prosecutors and defense attorneys, with Chauvin’s lawyers using 14 of their 18 allowed peremptory challenges to reject jurors without cause, while prosecutors used eight of their 10 chances to do so. One potential juror, for instance, was eliminated by Chauvin’s attorneys after she said she had marched and carried a sign. The judge was also allowed to dismiss any potential juror for cause.
The defense can present evidence related to a 2019 arrest in which Floyd was found with drugs—in particular, it will use medical evidence from that arrest to make its case that Derek Chauvin didn’t actually cause Floyd’s death. Prosecutors may use witnesses to Chauvin’s aggression as an off-duty security guard. Chauvin has drawn at least 17 misconduct complaints in his police work.
“What’s happening in this trial is not just a statement or a judgment on the criminal process in Hennepin County, Minnesota,” Irene Oritseweyinmi Joe, a law professor at University of California at Davis, told The Washington Post. ”There are people all over the nation, all over the world, that are looking at this to get a sense of how much they can believe in our system of justice.”
And it’s no slam dunk that the message sent about how much people can believe in our system of justice will be a good one.
“Winning a conviction will be hard,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison told NPR. “I say this not because I doubt our resources or our ability, in fact we’re confident in what we’re doing. But history does show that there are clear challenges here.” The simple fact that Chauvin faces such serious charges, though, is already a departure from many high-profile police killings of civilians.
The city of Minneapolis already settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Floyd’s family, paying $27 million. The other three officers who were on the scene with Chauvin when he killed Floyd will face trial on lesser charges over the summer.
USA Today is streaming the trial on YouTube. Jurors will be obscured from the camera.