How the Chauvin Trial Will Go, and other matters of White supremacy

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I don’t expect convictions in the Chauvin or Rittenhouse trials.

In both cases, it is about White supremacy. I don’t subscribe to the idea half of the country comprises batshit crazy right wing red hat wearing insurrectionist Nazis. Not half. But enough that in putting together a pool of 12 people, it is almost impossible to not get one or two. They will obviate any criminal jury decision. This will apply to these two trials as well as many of the Capitol attack/Jan 6th criminals as well.

I believe the following things are true, correct me if I’m wrong.

1) Criminal trials require a unanimous decision and for burden of proof, rely on the concept of “shadow of doubt.”

2) Civil trials require a majority decision, and for burden of proof, rely on the concept of preponderance of evidence.

4) Normally, day to day, when a jury trial happens, there is a conviction most of the time.

5) On the infrequent occasion when a trial is highly visible and the stakes include things like White supremacy or other socio-political issues, when a jury trial happens, there is a hung jury or acquittal.

(Those last two points are conjecture, but it feels that way.)

Given all this, I expect these trials to involve both acquittals and some sort of examination of our thousand-year old history of the jury system. (The latter will lead to nothing.) I expect that in a subset of these cases (including the murder of Mr. Floyd) there will be a civil trial, and the civil trial will produce the equivalent of a conviction. And yes, I do think the OJ Simpson saga fits into this pattern.

Fight me.

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29 thoughts on “How the Chauvin Trial Will Go, and other matters of White supremacy

  1. Will he be convicted? I’d say almost certainly not. The “beyond a shadow of a doubt” terminology is essentially the legal version of the level of significance for guarding against a Type I error in classical hypothesis testing without the rigor that is (unfortunately and undeservedly) given to the “reject/do not reject” philosophy of testing.

    In addition to that I think about these things:

    – he was a police officer
    – he’s white
    – the victim has been dragged through the mud in terms of reputation by the far right
    – the (IMO) impossibility of finding a jury consisting of people who haven’t already made a decision based on “news” reports
    – the legal system as it now functions is as bad as the health care ‘system’ in the US

    All of that leads me to my statement that I’m almost 100% sure he won’t be convicted.

  2. The correct legal standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt”, not shadow. Of course, if you get a Trumpkin on the jury, “reasonable” goes out the window. My thought is that we’ll get a hung jury. On the other hand, it’s good that a possible charge of 3rd degree murder as an alternative to 2nd has been added. That can sometimes lead to negotiations in the jury to say, well he did something wrong, but we don’t want to charge him with too much, so you at least get a conviction for something.

    But yeah, jury nullification is something to worry about.

  3. I also agree that there will be no conviction. Not because of white supremacy, but because the defendant didn’t commit any crime.

    I suspect that the evidence will show that a dying man simply died while the police restrained him with an approved hold, which was implemented right out of the training manual. The ambulance was on the way and the police were restraining Floyd and waiting for the ambulance (as trained).

    The triple lethal level of fentanyl found in Floyd’s system, plus the other drug consumed to hide it from the police will raise reasonable doubt as to whether the hold killed him or the drugs killed him.

    I suspect the evidence will show this hold is in widespread use worldwide, and very rarely if ever is the actual cause of any death. This hold has been used hundreds and thousands of times and is not known to cause death.

    We also saw on the video that Floyd could lift his head and talk. This was knees used to hold Floyd down, not four cops putting all their weight on Floyd. The autopsy didn’t show any evidence of suffocation or trauma – but showed death by heart attack. The hold didn’t cause the heart attack – but fentanyl is well known for causing heart attacks.

    The arrest was lawful (for passing counterfeit bills), Floyd resisted arrest, so the restraint was lawful. Perhaps Floyd’s resistance contributed to his death (triggered his heart attack) – but that is not on the cops – that was on Floyd. They were doing their job and Floyd’s death was not their fault.

    It is very sad when a drug addict dies – but it happens everyday whether the cops happen to be proximate or not. This death simply happened while the cops were trying to get Floyd help.

    Despite all that – I expect more riots, assaults, looting and arson when the jury announces their decision.

    1. Rick, yes there was fentanyl, no it was not sufficient to kill him.

      It is possible that there will be looting and arson. Last time, during the “uprising,” fascist/racist Q-anon type groups carried out a number of destructive events. I expect some of that no matter what the jury comes back with.

  4. Greg:

    Well I had read that it was three times the lethal level (from the autopsy). So I guess I will wait to see what testimony is offered about that issue.

    In the meantime, did you see this article:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/7-jurors-face-new-questioning-in-ex-officers-murder-trial/2021/03/16/cd568d52-86d3-11eb-be4a-24b89f616f2c_story.html

    Quote:

    In the first arrest, several opioid pills and cocaine were found. An autopsy showed Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system when he died.

    “The similarities are incredible. The exact same behavior in two incidents, almost one year apart,” Nelson said.

    Paramedics who examined Floyd in 2019 warned him that his blood pressure was dangerously high, putting him at risk for a heart attack or stroke, and took him to a hospital for examination. Nelson argued that shows Floyd knew that swallowing drugs might result in going to the hospital rather than jail.

    End Quote.

    So the 2019 incident almost killed him, and the 2020 incident did kill him. Same behavior both times. He ate some of the evidence. Pretty dangerous when you are already high on a lethal level of fentanyl.

    The jury will have a lot to sort out (down 2 today because of the city announcing the settlement for 27M). Certainly a lot of information to raise reasonable doubt (in my opinion).

    1. Well, as you know – I don’t think Floyd was “put to death”. I think he died due to his overdose, and then eating drug evidence when arrested, and then struggling and resisting arrest and triggering a heart attack. In other words, he killed himself (in my opinion).

      But in general, I think it justified to be put to death after a trial, being found guilty, given the death penalty for the crime convicted of, and after the appeals are exhausted.

  5. “What is your threshold for what justifies that a person be put to death?”

    rickA’s threshold is “not a white guy but anyone else”

  6. Interesting and spot-on piece in the Chicago Tribune.

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/rex-huppke/ct-atlanta-shootings-asian-robert-long-bad-day-huppke-20210317-eqrcfb3dlfe4vlwtfigwpvdifq-story.html

    Especially interesting since it’s come out that the Atlanta police spokesman who stated the killings didn’t seem to be race related was offering shirts with the caption

    “Place your order while they last,” Baker wrote above the photo of two T-shirts that said, “Covid 19 IMPORTED VIRUS FROM CHY-NA.”

    on his Facebook page last year.

    1. More good points about how the police in Atlanta tried to deflect blame from the shooter to the victims, and how the press initially went along with it.

      Lee, who had worked the police beat in Korea earlier in his career, was in disbelief. “I’ve never before seen a case where the police suggest: ‘The suspect said it wasn’t the case, therefore it’s not the case,’?” he says. Worse, the press replicated the official statement in headlines and presented it as breaking news. In most news pieces, the spokesperson’s words were treated as self-explanatory, without additional context or questions. “It was almost as though the press believed what was said to be correct, like they wanted it to be the case,” Lee says.

      from this article

      https://www.cjr.org/local_news/atlanta-shooting-local-korean-news.php

  7. The ninth juror seated said she believed “all lives matter” and that if someone says “black lives matter” it means they don’t care about other lives.

    She also claimed she didn’t know that “Blue lives matter” was specifically aimed at police.

    So >=1 one racist/ignorant jury member. Great. Doesn’t the prosecution get to strike someone?

  8. Me: I have asthma.

    Policeman handcuffs me, forces me to the ground and for almost 9 minutes puts his full weight via his knee on my neck while I scream that I can’t breathe. I pass out and shortly thereafter die.

    RickA: (If I was black): The asthma killed him.
    RickA (If I was white): I was suffocated by the policeman. Second degree murder.

    No small wonder that RickA’s worldview comes via Fox, Newsmax and OAN.

    1. Jeffh:

      The evidence doesn’t support your interpretation of the video.

      Watch it again.

      Look for the portions where Floyd lifts his head to talk to the police.

      He wouldn’t be able to lift his head if Chauvin’s full weight (or even just a part of his weight) was bearing down on Floyd’s neck.

      I am sure this will be dealt with during the trial at great length.

      You don’t need a liberal or conservative worldview to view the videotape and form your own conclusion about what it shows.

      Try it and see for yourself.

    2. On cue jeffh we have rickA and a dishonest summary. His racism is truly blinding in scope.

  9. RickA: Chauvin put his full weight on Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes. Floyd was handcuffed and posed no threat whatsoever to the three policemen. Whatever one can make of this, the arrest procedure was excessively brutal. It was a disgusting spectacle. Chauvin is clearly a disgrace to the service. At the very least it was negligent manslaughter. At worst homicide. For sure he should never have been employed in the police force.

  10. RickA, the manner of death will be stipulated since it is from multiple O’Connor’s reports, and it isn’t your interpretation.

    He was killed by Chauvin. That is a premise that this trial will start with.

    1. Greg:

      I disagree. The defense would never stipulate that Chauvin killed Floyd. That is the ultimate question which the jury has to decide. That is what the entire trial is about.

      The first coroner report “revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”

      The second coroner said “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restrain, and neck compression,”.

      The defense will of course be asking a lot of questions about why the changed language. It is going to raise a lot of questions – which is good for the defense.

      I thought this part of the second report was interesting: “How injury occurred: Decedent experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s)”

      So he had a heart attack while being restrained. That is certainly not the same thing as saying Chauvin killed Floyd. Not even close.

      So I disagree that there will be a stipulation. I do agree my interpretation is my interpretation and we will have to let the trial speak for itself.

      I think it quite likely Chauvin is found not guilty on all three counts. But that is just a personal opinion based on the video, news stories and the coroner’s reports (and law school from 37 years ago).

      So we will see.

  11. It was also RickA’s opinion that Trump would enjoy a ‘thumping victory’ in the 2020 presidential election.

    Given that RickA’s opinions are generally worse than useless, and that his views are laced with both racism and right wing xenophobia, I often wonder why he ever expresses them here, on a progressive blog.

    Brazen stupidity, perhaps?

    1. “Brazen stupidity, perhaps?”

      That, plus the standard libertarian mindset that even though their view of complex issues is always uninformed and non supported by reality it is superior to every other view.

    1. Jeffh;

      That is a strong statement. With that said, it’ll still be a long slog to get a conviction, even though it is highly deserved. A good many people believe (as rickA illustrates every time he posts) that Black men are all violent, drug-addled criminals who don’t deserve to be treated like humans. You see that in the approach the defense has taken in their description of George Floyd and the “mob” that supposedly posed a threat to the officers. (Note that the evidence shows the “mob” to be a few people who were asking the police to get off Floyd’s neck, nothing more.)

  12. Yet another reason for increased gun control in the USA, this after more recent mass shootings.

    Police believe an infant was fatally shot on Friday by his three-year-old brother after the older boy got a hold of a gun inside a Houston apartment.

    The infant was shot in his abdomen on Friday morning, said Houston assistant police chief Wendy Baimbridge.

    Baby dies in ‘tragic’ shooting by three-year-old brother, Houston police say

    The adults concerned should have any fire arms licenses revoked.

    Several adults who were inside the apartment drove the eight-month-old boy to a hospital, where he died.

  13. Facebook and page abuse undermining democratic movements including in the USA.

    Page abuse is related to what Russia’s Internet Research Agency did during the 2016 US election, when it set up Facebook accounts purporting to represent Americans and used them to manipulate individuals and influence political debates. Facebook called this “coordinated inauthentic behavior” (CIB) and tasked an elite team of investigators, known as threat intelligence, with uncovering and removing it. Facebook now discloses the CIB campaigns it uncovers in monthly reports, while removing the fake accounts and Pages.

    Revealed: the Facebook loophole that lets world leaders deceive and harass their citizens

    If I made a post about this on my FB page I wonder how long it would stay up. I have already seen other posts disappear before my eyes, one on the disparity between the figures for pregnancy deaths between white and non-white women, this beneath a post discussing the doctored by Downing Street report on racial and inter-ethnic disparities in general.

    Big Brother is watching.

  14. Well I’m surprised — pleasantly — at the verdict. The prosecution used data and experts to make its case, the defense fell back on “ooohh, black folks are scary and evil and dangerous” and brought in a guy who’s reliability is already under serious attack in a case out east. It’s always worked for them in the past (rickA bought that and ignored evidence right from the start, but that’s how he rolls) and I expected it to work again.

    Now we begin the stage of appeals. The system grinds on.

  15. Justice was served, although I know that there will be appeals. The bottom line is that Chauvin was clearly guilty of culpable, negligent homicide. The force rendered against George Floyd was profoundly disproportionate, with four policemen present, and Chauvin acted clearly out of a deeply-rooted form of racist power and privilege.

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