In an op-ed for the StarTribune, Attorney Joe Tamburino explores the road ahead for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of the murder of George Floyd.
The Chauvin trial was one of the biggest in Minnesota history, but as Attorney Joe Tamburino explains, what can appear to be an open-and-shut case can be successfully appealed especially given some of the evolving legal precedent around Chauvin’s 3rd degree murder charge.
“To begin with, Chauvin's conviction for third-degree murder will undoubtedly be reversed,” Attorney Joe Tamburino wrote, “Due to the recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision in State v. Mohamed Noor.”
In reaching the Noor decision, the court determined that third-degree murder charges only apply when there is more than one victim. As we all know, Chauvin’s actions were wholly focused on Floyd, so his conviction for third-degree murder will be reversed.
Chauvin’s second-degree felony murder may also be reversed due to a lack of proof, per Attorney Tamburino, of a “completed and separate underlying felony assault.” The state wrapped up his second-degree felony murder charge with his third-degree murder charge; with the latter reversed, the former could follow.
“In Chauvin's trial, the state relied on numerous medical experts who testified that Floyd died of cardiopulmonary arrest — his heart and lungs stopped,” Attorney Tamburino explained in his op-ed. “But no expert testified that Floyd was unconscious for a period of time, and therefore had suffered a third-degree assault before he died, as opposed to dying in a single medical event.”
As Attorney Tamburino put it, Chauvin’s attorney could argue that no one proved “whether Floyd lost consciousness for a period of time before he died or if he simply died.”
If Chauvin can get his second-degree felony murder and third-degree murder convictions reversed, only his second-degree manslaughter conviction will remain. Attorney Tamburino expects this conviction to be upheld; there is more than enough evidence. Nevertheless, Chauvin’s penalties and prison sentence could be reduced.
Joe Tamburino says the Chauvin case is still one to watch closely, “Like Mohamed Noor, Chauvin could be on the path to a significantly reduced state sentence.”
Read Attorney Joe Tamburino’s full op-ed in the StarTribune here. To get in touch with a member of our legal team, call (612) 444-5020.