Who Are the Key Figures in the Derek Chauvin Trial?
Here’s what to know about the witnesses, the prosecution and defense, and the jurors, who will decide the case.,
Who are the key players in the Derek Chauvin trial?
April 20, 2021, 12:32 p.m. ET
By Marie Fazio
The jury has begun deliberations in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who has been charged in connection with the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died on May 25 after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground under the knee of Mr. Chauvin, who is white, for more than nine minutes.
Throughout the trial, which began on March 29, the jury heard from 45 witnesses, including bystanders and experts, viewed hours of video of Mr. Floyd’s arrest, and heard arguments from the prosecution and the defense, each presenting a different narrative of what caused Mr. Floyd’s death. Here are some of the key people in the trial.
Derek Chauvin, 45, had been an officer with the Minneapolis Police Department for more than 19 years before George Floyd’s death. During that time, he was the subject of at least 22 complaints and internal investigations.
Mr. Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of Mr. Floyd.
Judge Peter A. Cahill is a 14-year veteran of the bench in Hennepin County. He has previously worked as a public defender, private defense lawyer and prosecutor, rising to become chief deputy under Amy Klobuchar, now a U.S. senator, when she served as the county attorney.
The jury — made up of 12 jurors and two alternates — was chosen from a pool of more than 300 people from across Hennepin County. Throughout the trial, they have remained anonymous; their faces were not shown on camera.
The jurors’ identities are secret, but the court has released some demographic information: There are three Black men, one Black woman, two women who identified as multiracial, two white men and four white women. They are from urban and suburban areas, ranging in age from 20s to 60s.
Jerry W. Blackwell, a corporate attorney, was the first lawyer to speak when the trial opened. Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general, brought Mr. Blackwell in only for this case, and Mr. Blackwell is working for free.
Steve Schleicher, an experienced trial and appellate lawyer and former federal prosecutor, spent 13 years in the U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota, as the deputy criminal chief of the special prosecution section and the St. Paul branch chief, according to a biography on his firm’s website. He gave the prosecution’s closing argument, while Mr. Blackwell handled its rebuttal.
Erin Eldridge, an assistant attorney general, works in the office’s criminal division. Among the witnesses she questioned was Charles McMillian, who broke down on the stand while he recounted watching Mr. Chauvin pin Mr. Floyd to the ground.
Matthew Frank, an assistant attorney general for Minnesota, took the lead in questioning many of the witnesses, including several who shared emotional and detailed accounts of Mr. Floyd’s arrest on May 25.
Other lawyers on the prosecution team who have not appeared in court include Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general; Neal Katyal, an acting solicitor general during the Obama administration who has argued many cases before the Supreme Court; and Sundeep Iyer and Harrison Gray Kilgore, lawyers with Hogan Lovells who joined the prosecution pro hac vice, meaning the judge has allowed them to work on the case despite not being licensed by the bar in Minnesota.
Mr. Chauvin is represented by Eric J. Nelson, a defense lawyer who rotates as counsel for the legal defense fund of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officer’s Association. Mr. Nelson took on Mr. Chauvin’s defense over the summer, after his first lawyer retired. Amy Voss, another lawyer, whom Mr. Nelson identified as his assistant, appeared in court throughout the trial but did not speak.