Sunday, December 5, 2021

Appeals court says convicted man should have a new trial

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Bourne Conscience, a legal aid organization, says that it will pursue an appeal against Derek Chourevin’s conviction for the murder of former New York Knicks player George Floyd in 2004. The New York Times reports:

A criminal appeals court said Monday that Mr. Chourevin, 46, should be granted a new trial on the grounds that police officers could have used a better investigation into the police’s “eligibility practices” in stopping motorists.

The 2nd circuit court ruled unanimously that prosecutors could have, but failed to, consider whether Mr. Chourevin had been excluded from special traffic tickets or otherwise improperly denied such treatment in the four years leading up to Mr. Floyd’s death.

The illegal stop was one of multiple fatal officer-involved shootings that prompted nationwide protests after the 1999 beating of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed black man. New York City Police Department Commissioner William Bratton established a new departmental rule for stopping drivers that encouraged a thorough, detailed review of traffic infractions, whether a traffic infraction was on the driver’s record or whether it might have been a violation warranting a traffic ticket.

Mr. Chourevin was serving a five-year sentence for murder when a prosecutors appealed his sentence, claiming he had been denied special treatment by police officers who had written no tickets during his arrest in the Jan. 10, 2004, shooting. An appeals court found in his favor. But then Judge Dennis Jacobs, on Monday, said that the departmental rule was not as effective as he had hoped it would be in producing quick results, even though the six-page rule was not new. It had been under development for more than two years.

“Those gaps were filled fairly quickly,” Judge Jacobs said. He said that both the original trial judge and the appellate court had concluded that Mr. Chourevin had not received special treatment from the arresting officers. But, Judge Jacobs said, they could not speculate about how the rule might have been applied retrospectively to Mr. Chourevin’s case.

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