Chauvin Juror Participated in BLM Protest, Lied About It

Getting an impartial jury in an internationally-famous case is next to impossible.

AP (“Chauvin juror defends participation in Washington protest“):

One of the jurors who convicted Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd on Monday defended his participation in a protest last summer in Washington, D.C., following online speculation about his motives for serving on the jury and whether it might be grounds for appeal.

A photo, posted on social media, shows Brandon Mitchell, who is Black, attending the Aug. 28 event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington. Floyd’s brother and sister, Philonise and Bridgett Floyd, and relatives of others who have been shot by police addressed the crowd.

That photo recently recirculated online, the Star Tribune reported.

It shows Mitchell standing with two cousins and wearing a T-shirt with a picture of King and the words, “GET YOUR KNEE OFF OUR NECKS” and “BLM,” for Black Lives Matter. Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds last May as Floyd said repeatedly that he couldn’t breathe.

Mitchell, 31, acknowledged being at the event and that his uncle posted the photo, but said he doesn’t recall wearing or owning the shirt.

Mitchell was one of 12 jurors who convicted Chauvin of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Mitchell, the first juror to go public, spoke to several media outlets last week, including The Associated Press.

“I’d never been to D.C.,” Mitchell said of his reasons for attending the event. “The opportunity to go to D.C., the opportunity to be around thousands and thousands of Black people; I just thought it was a good opportunity to be a part of something.”

Mitchell and Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, have not returned messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Mike Brandt, a Minneapolis defense attorney not involved in the case, told the AP the revelation alone wasn’t nearly enough to overturn Chauvin’s conviction, but it could be combined with other issues — the announcement of a massive civil settlement to Floyd’s family during jury selection, the shooting of Daunte Wright, the judge’s refusal to move the trial — in an appeal to say Chauvin was denied a fair trial.

Ted Sampsell-Jones, a professor at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, told the AP that the photo of Mitchell was “evidence that Chauvin can point to in order to establish that his right to an impartial jury was denied.”

He added: “Speaking frankly, Chauvin did not have a fully impartial jury in the sense we usually give criminal defendants. That wasn’t the fault of the judge or the prosecutors, it was simply a function of the incredible publicity and public pressure” surrounding the trial.

Mitchell said he answered “no” to two questions about demonstrations on the questionnaire sent out before jury selection.

The first question asked: “Did you, or someone close to you, participate in any of the demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death?” The second asked: “Other than what you have already described above, have you, or anyone close to you, participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality?”

What a mess.

Given the publicity surrounding the Floyd killing, one presumes all of the jurors were well acquainted with the case ahead of time. And, frankly, one would hope they were all outraged that Floyd was dead pursuant to an arrest for passing a counterfeit $20 bill.

Still, the jurors were specifically asked whether they had participated in these protests and Mitchell lied about it. His defense, that the march was a celebration of Dr. King and not a protest over police violence, is rather belied by his t-shirt.

Whether that’s enough to overturn the verdict and declare a mistrial is beyond my expertise. But I tend to agree with Sampsell-Jones that Chauvin did not have an impartial jury. Then again, I’m not sure that’s even a reasonable objective given the media exposure.

Further, I don’t see what value a retrial would have. Now that Chauvin has been convicted of murder, he’s even more of a murderer in the minds of any potential jury pool.

UPDATE: The above-linked IBT article (“Derek Chauvin Conviction to be Overturned After Photo Shows Juror Wearing T-Shirt Supporting George Floyd in 2020?“) features this image, ostensibly from Mitchell’s Facebook page:

Additionally, it links to a contemporaneous Vox report (“The “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” March on Washington in photos“) that both explains the t-shirt design and further belies Mitchell’s claim that it wasn’t an anti-police protest.

Fifty-seven years after Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the 1963 March on Washington, thousands of protesters for racial justice again gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC. It was an emotional day of protesting against police violence, the culmination of a summer of nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Rev. Al Sharpton, who first announced the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” March at Floyd’s funeral in June, spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, alongside the families of Black people who have been killed by police in recent memory.

“For too long, you acted like we didn’t matter,” Sharpton told the crowd. “They say, ‘Well, everybody matters.’ But everybody hasn’t mattered the same in America. The reason we had and we still have to say ‘Black Lives Matter’ is because we get less health care, like we don’t matter. We go to jail longer for the same crimes, like we don’t matter … Black lives matter, and we won’t stop until it matters to everybody.”

Floyd’s sister, Bridgett Floyd, also addressed march-goers, asking them to carry on the legacy her brother created in death. “My brother cannot be a voice today,” Floyd said. “We have to be that voice, we have to be that change.”

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    If that’s a picture of the juror I’d say (he) lied about his age and sex as well.

    Oy. What a mess, is right.

    3
  2. When a juror lies in voir dire it may provide grounds for the appeals court to require a retrial.

    4
  3. steve says:

    Not to be pedantic but I must be missing something here. The first question was about protests in Minneapolis and he went to DC, so unless I am missing something he didnt lie about that. On the second question your citation says he went to an event to commemorate King’s speech. It does not sound like it was a protest. It sounds like a scheduled event since it was on August 28th, the same date as King’s speech in 1963. I cant find any evidence that there were protests or demonstrations at that event. Seems kind of far fetched to equate attending a commemoration and a protest unless you want to define anything involved with King as protest effort.

    That said I am sure it will be played the way you describe, and the guy should have indicated he went to the speech event if the form allowed it.

    Steve

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Here we go again.

    1
  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    Further, I don’t see what value a retrial would have. Now that Chauvin has been convicted of murder, he’s even more of a murderer in the minds of any potential jury pool.

    It is doubtful that you could find 12 individuals, plus alternates in the USA, never mind Hennepin Cty or the State of Minnesota, that could credibly say that they have not heard of the Chauvin case and conviction. This may prove to be grounds to force a retrial, but to find an impartial jury?

    2
  6. Kathy says:

    I don’t think impartial jury means “without any foreknowledge of the events in question and the people involved in them.” It means the ability of individual jurors to judge the evidence and testimony on their merits, regardless of personal beliefs or feelings.

    The question is whether such a thing is possible.

    it may be easier in cases where the jurors have no strong personal beliefs or feelings about either the crime or the people involved in it, though that might breed indifference and a willingness to go either with the prosecution or defense based on other factors.

    3
  7. Steve says:

    @steve:
    So “Get your knees off our necks wasn’t referring to police brutality? Was it about Greco-Roman wrestling or Brazillian Ju-Jitsu? Was it about wrangling livestock? Chiropractors?

    Wearing the shirt, with words on it, isn’t participating in the expression of what the words mean? Was he drugged and unconscious when someone else dressed him? Maybe he has dyslexia and thought it said something else. Perhaps aliens
    used their mind control to make him think it was something different.

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  8. Lying about participating in a protest that included a BLM element but was also for other purposes are two different things. Establishing that he lied would essentially require reading the jurors mind. I don’t 4its enough to convict him of perjury, for example.

    As for the verdict I think you would have to prove that he unduly influenced the other members of the jury

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  9. Raoul says:

    If the juror is determined to have lied to get into the jury panel it would seem the reason would have been to either ensure a conviction or prevent an acquittal due to the nature of the lie. If so that’s an obvious mistrial and the juror would be charge criminally.

    5
  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @David Schuler:
    There is reporting that the DOJ was poised to arrest Chauvin, had the jury acquitted him…so I don’t think the chance of appeal means much for Chauvin’s future.
    C’mon…we all watched him kill Forman. Run him through the process and be squeaky fuqing clean about it. He still is a murderer.

    5
  11. just nutha says:

    @steve: My guess would be that the “get off our necks…” tee is the more problematical element here. Then again, we live in a world where Photoshop allows us to do all sorts of thing to pictures, so someone needs to establish that such a shirt is available and that he owns one.

    The other side of me notes that back in the bad old days, having attended grassroots level criminal justice events (a.k.a. lynchings) probably didn’t disqualify whites from serving on juries, so I’m willing to how note ironic it would be if a similar thing had happened here and move on.

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  12. Modulo Myself says:

    Doesn’t sound like he lied. Having and hearing opinions about police brutality and racism does not equal protesting, unless you think that black people having opinions automatically are protesters.

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  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    unless you think that black people having opinions automatically are protesters.

    No no no, Black people having opinions are troublemakers. Get with the program here.

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  14. steve says:

    just nutha The question was if he participated in a protest not what was he wearing. The question did not say anything about BLM and I doubt that every BLM meeting is a protest. BUT, if you want to define every BLM event or any event where you commemorate the words of a famous black person as a protest, they you could say he attended a protest but that is incredibly broad.

    Doug- I would think all they would have to do is determine what happened at the event on 8/28. If there was an active demonstration opposing police brutality then he lied. If a bunch of people got up and spoke, including opposing police brutality, but it ended there then he didnt.

    Steve- Learn to read. Isn’t that hard if you try.

    Steve

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  15. James Joyner says:

    @steve: See the update. The rally was, at very least, partly co-opted by the BLM protests and the t-shirt was part of that movement.

    @Sleeping Dog: But the argument here is that Mitchell was very much not impartial.

    @Modulo Myself: See the update. It was clearly a BLM protest.

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  16. Chip Daniels says:

    Just here to note how odd it is that protesting the prevalence of racism and police brutality in America is somehow considered prejudicial, like the citizenry are supposed to be neutral and open minded about whether all persons are, in fact, created equal and whether the government should respect the Bill of Rights.

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  17. Sleeping Dog says:

    @James Joyner:

    Understand, my comment was about a potential retrial. Didn’t make that clear.

  18. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    See the update. It was clearly a BLM protest.

    It was debatably a BLM protest. It had multiple purposes. Easy to argue around that — any march of black folks these days is going to have an element of BLM in it, even ones originally created for some other purpose, like commemorating MLK’s speech.

    The shirt is harder to explain, but it’s entirely possible he was given it while he was there, didn’t keep it for long and it made little or no impression on him. Without reading the jurors mind, or finding lots more photos of him wearing it on different occasions it’s nearly impossible to tell what his intent was. “Free shirt” is a powerful motivator.

    The questionnaire probably should have just asked whether prospective jurors had been to any protests or marches, and then worked from there with lawyer questions.

    3
  19. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:
    So a march planned to commemorate King became co-opted by BLM…and there is zero evidence that this juror swayed any other jurors.
    Also, Chauvin had his knee on Forman’s neck for over nine minutes, which killed him.
    Have a nice day.

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  20. Modulo Myself says:

    @James Joyner:

    It was an event planned long in advance in commemoration of MLK’s speech. The guy flew to DC to see his family and go to this march. If the question had been have you ever attended a political event where BLM was mentioned or police brutality was opposed, then yes he would have lied. But that wasn’t the question.

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  21. just nutha says:

    @steve: Please note that I’m not advocating for anything–or at least advocacy was not my intention–simply noting where the problem may lie if one is advocating (which I certainly would in the role of his attorney).

    (It’s that pesky “you”= “some random human being” problem the language has.)

    1
  22. wr says:

    I guess if our default assumption is that it’s okay whenever a white cop chooses to kill a black guy, then anyone who opposes this is prejudiced, whereas a juror who believes that cops can kill whoever they want is impartial

    8
  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    If asked, ‘Have you ever committed a crime in Kansas?’ I could answer, no. In fact, I did not commit a crime in Kansas. Yay, I’m honest! Sure, I did some crimeing in California, Texas , Maine and Florida, but never in Kansas. Maybe I’m being overly self-critical, but I’d be pretty sure in my own mind that I had been misleading by answering in the negative.

    “Bobby, did you break the cookie jar?”
    “No, Mom, I did not!” True! It was the sudden impact with the floor. . .

    Legally true isn’t the same thing as true.

    But should that be a justification for a mistrial? Meh. I don’t think so, but IANAL, still less a judge.

    7
  24. just nutha says:

    @just nutha: @James Joyner: Okay. Evidence in hand, I have moved completely over to the “Wow! How ironic is THAT?” side of my passionate ambivalence in the second paragraph of my comment. Anything that was good enough in the days of Jim Crow is certainly a workable proposition in the modern era, too. Especially for shoe on the other foot settings.

    1
  25. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds: That’s exactly what Bill Clinton did in 1992: when asked about past marijuana use, prior to his infamous “I didn’t inhale” remark, he stated he had not violated the laws of this country–and it turned out he’d smoked a joint while in England.

    It was incidents like that that contributed to the use of the term “Clintonian” to suggest misleading without technically stating something false.

    4
  26. @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I’m not suggesting that the jury reached the wrong verdict or that it should have gone the other way. I’m just pointing out that the case law supports the possibility of a retrial.

    1
  27. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: @wr: @just nutha: If you’re at a rally and wearing a shirt specifically protesting the event in question, it’s not at all unreasonable to assume that you may have your mind already made up about what occurred.

    4
  28. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:
    If you watched the 9+ minutes of video of Chauvin killing Floyd,

    it’s not at all unreasonable to assume that you may have your mind already made up about what occurred.

    Maybe this goes to appeal, a judge will decide that.
    Maybe the DOJ will just arrest Chauvin, as has been reported.
    There is no maybe about whether or not Chauvin is a murderer.
    No t-shirt is going to change that.

    6
  29. mattbernius says:

    @David Schuler:

    When a juror lies in voir dire it may provide grounds for the appeals court to require a retrial.

    This is entirely correct. Getting a retrial also tends to be a very high bar to clear, even in a case like that.

    In addition to @Doug Mataconis’s point here, Popehat goes into some of the reasons why in this episode of “All the Presidents’ Lawyers” – https://www.kcrw.com/news/shows/lrc-presents-all-the-presidents-lawyers/the-chauvin-verdict

    Either way this will be a basis for appeal at both the state and Federal Levels under Habeus Corpus laws and I expect the legal team will exhaust all those possibilities.

    3
  30. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I doubt you are going to find more than a very small handful of Black Americans who have an unbiased opinion on this case. So the alternative is what? A 2021 version of twelve white folks in Simi Valley deciding the Rodney King case.

    Yeah… Good luck with that.

    3
  31. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    it’s not at all unreasonable to assume that you may have your mind already made up about what occurred.

    The jury has to decide not whether the person is or is not guilty, but whether the state has proven that the person is guilty.

    Two very separate things.

    And, accounts are that the jury took their job very seriously, matching evidence to each of the crimes, etc.

    Also, having the view that police should be held accountable when murdering people should not preclude you from being on a jury that is being asked whether police murdered someone.

    Having the opposite view (the law is wrong, so I will not apply the law) is often tested for in jury trials for drug crimes.

    6
  32. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kylopod:
    Exactly.

  33. just nutha says:

    @James Joyner: Absolutely. And all I’m doing is noting that the same was true of 1937 Mississippi. I’m simply passionately ambivalent about how much I care about the degree to which Chauvin’s justice was miscarriaged. It’s happened before; it’ll happen again. Overall, I’m less affected by this particular miscarriage of justice than probably hundreds of earlier ones. (Again, there are tangible and good reasons for my not having a bar card, holding public office, having authority over other people, etc.)

    1
  34. James Joyner says:

    @Gustopher:

    having the view that police should be held accountable when murdering people should not preclude you from being on a jury that is being asked whether police murdered someone.

    Again, the man was literally wearing a shirt inspired by this particular case. He was not an impartial juror. And he lied about it.

    4
  35. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    And he lied about it.

    We don’t know that.

    We don’t know the juror’s state of mind, and he was asked the wrong questions.

    Totally possible to support BLM, go to a march that has lots of black people (and thus a BLM component), get a t-shirt, and not know much about the details of the particular case beyond “a lot of people seem upset about this case, and in general, yeah, police shouldn’t be killing black folks for no reason.”

    Hard to say it was a BLM protest — it was a MLK rally first.

    8
  36. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    I think I said in an earlier thread that this was going to come down to an assertion of a poisoned jury pool.

    It legitimately doesn’t matter. The operative factor here is that, if he lied during voir dire, which is conducted under oath, he would have disqualified himself as a juror (at a minimum), and potentially subjected himself to a charge of perjury as well if the system was inclined to pursue it.

    It’s not so much that he was or was not impartial, although the nature of this mess does open that assertion up to being pressed – it’s that if he lied he wasn’t eligible to serve on the jury in the first place and his presence there despite that ineligibility would taint the entire verdict.

    The applicable remedy is a retrial, but at this point it’s pretty clear that the only way to accomplish that is a bench trial. They screwed this one from the word go.

    3
  37. just nutha says:

    @HarvardLaw92: You’re more likely than me to know this: is there any likelihood that a judge would find him not guilty? Is there a credible argument for his actions? (And I already know that I won’t like what the credible argument might be, so this is only idle curiosity. 😉 )

  38. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @just nutha:

    Given the case that was presented, I’d have a hard time believing that a judge would come to a different conclusion. You can come up with any manner of credible arguments, to be honest, but the key facts are that Mr. Floyd didn’t appear to be (at least from what I’ve seen) actively resisting arrest and he didn’t represent (again, based on what I’ve seen) a threat to officer safety, so the control tactic (which can be argued forever) wasn’t (IMLO anyway) necessary. That makes it excessive force and opens him up to liability / culpability.

    The verdict was correct, IMO. This mess just adds an unnecessary complication to the whole sad drama.

    5
  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Thanks. And I will certainly agree to both the unnecessary complication and whole sad drama points. It’s not a high point in the history of the nation, but it is a mess.

  40. grumpy realist says:

    Of course Chauvin’s attorneys are going to jump on this and try to ride it as far as they can. Whether it works, however….

    You don’t get to simply state “the juror LIED!” and claim a need for a new trial.

  41. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    If its proven that he lied under oath during voir dire,which at least on face appears to be the case, the court is pretty much compelled to declare a mistrial, set aside the verdict, and retry the case de novo. To fail to do so would violate Chauvin’s 6th Amendment rights. It’s not a grey area. This is a serious thing.

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  42. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Justice Cardozo:

    A talesman, when accepted as a juror, becomes a part or member of the court. The judge who examines on the voir dire is engaged in the process of organizing the court. If the answers to the questions are willfully evasive or knowingly untrue, the talesman, when accepted, is a juror in name only. His relation to the court and to the parties is tainted in its origin; it is a mere pretense and sham. What was sought to be attained was the choice of an impartial arbiter. What happened was the intrusion of a partisan defender. If a kinsman of one of the litigants had gone into the jury room disguised as the complaisant juror, the effect would have been no different. The doom of mere sterility was on the trial from the beginning.

  43. Jim Brown 32 says:

    How many White jurors “Back the Blue” sending thousands of Black Men to jail every year? I never heard anyone concerned about whether they were/are impartial–

    But by all means—retry him so I can have the pleasure of watching him convicted again.

    7
  44. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I have to be elsewhere today, so I won’t necessarily be able to respond further as I’d like. For attorneys & others who might come across the post above, I am basing that assertion on what seems a clear satisfaction of the two prongs of the McDonough test [McDonough Power Equipment, Inc. v. Greenwood,464 U.S. 548 (1984)]

  45. Grewgills says:

    Others have touched on why his answers to the two questions are arguably technically correct.
    I think this follow on, after the questions is relevant as well, since people are arguing that he misrepresented himself and his feelings about BLM by his, perhaps, misleading answers to the two questions.

    Mitchell said he answered “no” to two questions in the juror questionnaire sent out before jury selection that asked about participation in demonstrations.

    The first question asked, “Did you, or someone close to you, participate in any of the demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death?”

    The second asked, “Other than what you have already described above, have you, or anyone close to you, participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality?”

    Mitchell said he was not concerned about backlash for his participation in the march, noting its historic significance beyond the Chauvin case.

    “This was a big deal,” he said of the event. “It’s a national thing.”

    Mitchell took issue with at least one news account of the picture that said he told the court during jury selection that he had no knowledge of Chauvin’s case.

    “I think I was being extremely honest, for sure,” he said of the jury selection process. “I gave my views on everything — on the case, on Black Lives Matter.”

    Nelson asked Mitchell several questions during jury selection, and Mitchell told him: He had watched clips of bystander video of the incident; he had talked about the case with his family, friends and co-workers; he had wondered why three other officers at the scene didn’t stop Chauvin; and he had a “very favorable” opinion of Black Lives Matter.

    Mitchell also told Nelson he knew some police officers at his gym who were “great guys,” and that he felt neutral about Blue Lives Matter, a pro-police group. He said he could be neutral at trial.

    4
  46. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    They screwed this one from the word go.

    Would you specify who the “they” are?

  47. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    Hmm, city leadership. The judge. Prosecutors. The juror who appears to have lied under oath. Take your pick…

    1
  48. Grewgills says:

    HarvardLaw92,
    Lied under oath might be a bit of a stretch. The questions were:

    Did you, or someone close to you, participate in any of the demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death?

    and

    Other than what you have already described above, have you, or anyone close to you, participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality?

    There is no evidence that the first was untrue.
    The second is more potentially problematic, but as others have noted, what he went to was an NAACP gathering commemorating the 57th Anniversary of Dr King’s “I have a dream” speech.
    If he thought of this event as a commemoration of Dr King’s speech and an opportunity to visit family and see DC, rather than as a protest against police violence, was he lying?
    Given what he admitted under further questioning (referenced above) was this really prejudicial, or is the only issue whether or not he lied?

  49. mattbernius says:

    Update: as he should in doing his job and providing a robust defense, Chauvin’s attorney has filed to impeach the outcome of the trial.

    This article sketches out why that’s still an uphill battle at this moment. As always it’s suggested not predicting outcomes on the basis of the limited facts we have in front of us: https://www.newsweek.com/why-new-derek-chauvin-trial-unlikely-1588839

  50. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Grewgills:

    You have to really read the questions thoroughly. The second one is pretty much “have you, anybody in your family, any of your friends, and any of the other people you know and regularly associate with, ever participated in any protests against police use of force / brutality. It casts the net far, far beyond just the talesman himself and way farther than just the isolated scope of the Floyd tragedy. Unless the guy lived on the moon, there was basically no way for him to truthfully answer it in the negative, which is why it was written as it was. It’s an unfair question, absolutely, but nobody ever said that voir dire has to be fair to the talesman. It’s about preserving the rights of the accused.

    There are two prongs to the test. They are the only issues that matter:

    1) Did the talesman lie? Given the breadth of the question, it’s highly likely that he did.
    2) Would an honest response have provided a basis for a challenge for cause? Um, yea. Goes straight to bias. They’d have struck him at light speed if he’d answered in the affirmative.

    That’s it. Black and white, yes or no. no room for maneuver.

  51. Grewgills says:

    HarvardLaw92,

    1) Did the talesman lie? Given the breadth of the question, it’s highly likely that he did.

    I guess my hang up here is the word “lie” vs give an answer that wasn’t true given the broad construction of the statement.
    If he understood the question more narrowly and answered in what he considered a truthful manner, does that qualify as a lie for these purposes?
    I understand for purposes of perjury there has to be intent.
    Is that not a qualification in this case?
    More to the point, does any untrue answer disqualify the talesman regardless of intent to deceive?

    He was certainly open about his support for BLM and his concerns about the case in other questions. It isn’t like he was hiding his support for BLM in general, his knowledge of the case, or his concerns about why other officers didn’t intervene to help Floyd.

  52. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Grewgills:

    If they proposed to sanction the talesman for contempt (which is the more typical avenue when criminality enters into the scenario), or for perjury, then yes, mens rea would require that the accused knowingly lied. Intent would be an element of the offenses.

    Voir dire is a procedural matter, not a criminal one. The talesman is not on trial for anything. The intent is to obtain all requested relevant information in order to enable the court (in the persons of the prosecution and the defense) to completely evaluate suitability, and the talesman doesn’t have the option of choosing what or how much to disclose. The standard in the original case which produced the test was a simple failure to disclose, in that the juror didn’t respond at all to a question, i.e. there was no affirmative lie but there was evasion by omission, and that omission in and of itself denied voir dire the opportunity to effectively and completely evaluate the potential for disqualifying factors. In this case, we go one step further in that there was what appears at least to be an affirmative lie, but the underlying principle is the same – the talesman’s actions denied the voir dire process the opportunity to completely evaluate his suitability as a juror, and arguably would have resulted in his being challenged for cause had he been completely forthcoming. As a result, he shouldn’t have been on the jury at all, shouldn’t have participated in the trial at all, and that renders the verdict produced by that trial illegitimate ab initio. The verdict must be flawed because the proceedings which produced it were flawed. I’m not trying to say he’s a bad person, or that he intended for any of this to happen, but he did what he did, and the 6th Amendment demands that we take action to address the violation of the accused’s rights which resulted from it.

    For the purposes of this test, telling an outright lie, telling part of the truth while hiding the rest, or just failing to disclose requested information are the same thing – they equally handicap complete voir dire & in doing so handicap the accused’s right to be assured of an impartial jury. The test also demands that the handicap be evaluated, which is where the second prong comes in, but I can tell you that failing to honestly and completely supply information which concerns the potential for bias is about as serious as it gets. It undermines the whole intent and purpose of voir dire – to establish to the satisfaction of the court that the talesman can be an impartial and unbiased arbiter. That is what’s causing the problem which would need to be remedied.

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  53. Mark Arnold says:

    @Doug Mataconis: please read the case law on grounds for a reversal for violating a defendant’s rights to a fair and impartial jury. The 6th amendment cases don’t require a showing that the juror’s decision was influenced by his dishonest answer. Rather a showing that the answer was dishonest given the facts has been enough to grant a reversal. Being an ex-prosecutor I would be very concerned about the verdict being upheld if the appellate court follows the law.

  54. Steve B says:

    And it appears that Mitchell lied to the press when claiming he doesn’t recall wearing or owning the t-shirt. He is recorded on video podcast wearing the same t-shirt in December 2020.

  55. Granny says:

    @steve: His shirt is a protest about police, specifically about the George Floyd incident.

  56. Granny says:

    @Doug Mataconis: No. His verdict was predetermined. He lied. A different juror could have refused to convict and then it would have been a hung jury. He was partial and took the spot of what was supposed to be an impartial juror. Though after reading the bios of the jurors it is beyond me why Nelson accepted them.