A word of caution in the months ahead as it concerns the trial of Derek Chauvin and the other officers involved in the death of George Floyd.
Do not be surprised if they are found guilty.
Do not be surprised if they are found not guilty.
All humans have a tendency to look for the quick and easy to digest answer when the truth is generally nuanced and difficult to understand on first blush.
You’ll say, “I saw the video, what else do I need to know?” without reading the toxicology report.
Or, you’ll read the toxicology report and say, “See, drugs in his system contributed to his death, the expert doctor says so” without appreciating that the crime he’s been charged with specifically takes that into account (these are hypotheticals, for the record).
And this is to say nothing of the fact that, in Minnesota and most other states, there are roughly half a dozen versions of “illegal killings” on the books. It’s one kind of murder when you do it on purpose, another when it’s on accident, a third when you’re a cop on duty doing your job, and so on.
There’s a reason lawyers usually do NOT want to go to trial. Trials are weird and anything can happen. You can think it’s a slam dunk until your co-counsel says, “Why don’t you go ahead and try on that glove?”
More than anything, please, be humble. I mean it: be humble.
Acknowledge that your knowledge of the case is likely the result of watching 5-10 minute bursts of talking heads yelling. Maybe you’re special and read the actual police report. Perhaps you even wrote out a YAY and NAY list. Maybe you get into it like you’re Nancy Grace and you’re searching for a dead white girl in Aruba.
And, still, you’d be ignorant as all get out. Jurors sit in a box and have every piece of evidence delivered right to their laps. They spend their free time, such as it is, studying that evidence. Sure, some don’t, but a lot of jurors – most, I’d guess – take it seriously and pore over every detail. Yes, you did your five minutes, or even five hours, of studying: they did every minute of the day for five weeks (or however long the trial lasts). They get to make actual determinations as to which witness was credible and why. They sit in a room and discuss these details with their fellow jurors. You don’t. I don’t. None of us do. We’re not in the room itself, we don’t see a lip quiver when someone says, “I didn’t mean to” before bursting into tears.
No, CNN/Fox did NOT recap it well. Or, even if they did, that’s all it is: a recap. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, sure, but also, don’t read the blurb on the back and think that counts as having read the whole thing.