The 17-page juror questionnaire for the State trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged in connection with the death of George Floyd is sectioned off in six parts including a total of 74 questions. The three former officers served alongside Derek Chauvin during the events that occurred up until Floyd’s death. Former Officers Tou Thao, 35, J. Alexander Kueng, 27, and Thomas Lane, 38, face State charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting manslaughter with a trial scheduled to begin in March. The trio is also charged Federally along with Chauvin. Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng were each charged with two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, according to the indictment from the U.S. Department of Justice. Thomas Lane is charged with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. Reports hav circulated that the federal trial could happen in January or February ahead of the State trial .
The juror questionnaire for the three former officers is similar to the juror questionnaire in the Chauvin trial with several of the questions asking a potential juror how favorable or unfavorable they are about what happened to George Floyd versus their connection to law enforcement and whether their experiences are positive or negative.
Within trials, the jury selection process, which has proven to be a vital component within the outcome of a verdict, has consistently remained white dominant. The trial for the men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery just weeks ago raised concern after the process produced 11 White jurors and only one Black juror, and now in Minneapolis with Kim Potter, we see these numbers reflected again, 9 white jurors, 2 Asian, and 1 Black. The questionnaire is inherently an evaluation of bias, with questions centered around the perception of what happened to George Floyd, and the potential jurors connection to Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter, asking what the potential jurors’ perception is of the defendants versus George Floyd, views on protesting and property damage from the outbreak of protests after Floyd’s death.
The questionnaire even addresses the events of what happened to George Floyd from a place of neutrality, referring to it as an “interaction.”
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd died after an interaction with Minneapolis Police. – mncourts.gov
When asked outright during the jury selection process for the Chauvin trial people were disappointed in the court’s decision to oftentimes keep potential jurors who thought favorably of police but reject those who thought favorably of Black Lives Matter.
Question six is a prime example. How could a Black person impacted by the events of what happened to George Floyd answer this question from a place of neutrality without disregarding their own feelings around the value of Black lives?
- From what you have seen, read, or heard, do you have a general impression of George Floyd? Very negative Somewhat negative Neutral Somewhat positive, Very positive or Other: Why do you feel that way?
It’s as if the questionnaire is clearing space for the attorney’s to easily distinguish who is in favor of Black Lives Matters versus Blue Lives to create an outcome.
Section 1 is an evaluation of the perception of what happened to George Floyd through connections and the media, and involvement.
Section 2 is an evaluation of media sources, attempting to distinguish what sources the potential jurors gain their information from and how imbedded they are in the media.
Section 3 is an evaluation of the potential jurors connection to law enforcement and Minneapolis Police Department. It is centered around the experiences and views of law enforcement that may potentially sway a potential jurors impact within the trial. They even attempt to distinguish feelings around racial treatment within the law enforcement.
Section 4 is an evaluation of personal background. Race, age, career, education, marital status, community involvement and military involvement are all questioned here. It also discloses involvement with law.
Section 5 is an evaluation of opinions regarding the justice system, attempting to distinguish whether a potential juror feels its efficient versus corrupt.
And section 6 is an evaluation on trial length and the ability to serve, distinguishing whether a potential juror can be “fair.”
Since the juror questionnaire serves as an evaluation of bias, it’s hard to understand whether the lack of Black presence within trials serving racial justice cases lacks due to the idea that it is very hard to be biased towards the alleged injustices of Black lives as a Black person. The question as to whether the juror selection process is racially biased itself comes from the outcome of these trials in regards to racial justice cases consistently being served by predominantly white juries who would have had to express a neutral stance or disregard to the alleged injustices of Black lives to earn a seat.