TRIAL AND TOWN: Defense attorney outlines his claims!

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7, 2021

Top pundit quickly reacts: Yesterday may have been an unusual day in the Derek Chauvin trial.  Then again, it may not have.

Was yesterday an unusual day in the Chauvin trial? That speculation arises from a statement by guest host Ali Velshi on last evening's 11th Hour. 

Velshi was subbing for Brian Williams. At the end of the program's first segment, he teased the next segment as shown:

VELSHI (4/6/21): Coming up, the defense has its best day yet at the Derek Chauvin trial. But is it enough to leave a reasonable doubt with the jury? A former federal prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney join us next.

Say what? The defense had had its best day yet? On this campus, when the analysts hear something like that on MSNBC, they sit up and take notice.

That said, did the defense have its best day yet? Did it have a good day at all? Did it plant the seeds of "reasonable doubt" even in the mind of one juror?

Like Velshi, we have no idea—we have no way of knowing. 

Was some sort of reasonable doubt being planted in some juror's mind? We have no way of answering that question. Just to be honest, neither did Velshi, and neither did Velshi's guests.

Tomorrow, we'll share the assessment which apparently triggered the copy Velshi read. But that assessment was pure speculation, like so much of the commentary one encounters on "cable news" programs.

At any rate, we had to chuckle at what happened when Velshi's segment began. His tease might have suggested that he'd be presenting a "fair and balanced" pundit panel, with a criminal defense attorney countering the "hang 'em high" views of a former federal prosecutor.

Tomorrow, we'll show you what the "criminal defense attorney" said as she started the segment's discussion. First, let's consider what happened on the trial's first day, when the prosecution, and then the defense, presented their opening statements.

The opening statements were made last Monday morning—on Monday, March 29. Such statements don't constitute actual evidence in a trial, but they preview of the claims and arguments each side will attempt to make.

Given the love we all have for our American legal system, you'd almost think that American journalists would want to report the content of those presentations before they started telling us rubes what we should think about them. 

You'd almost think our journalists would want us the people to know what each side actually said!

Good news! At the New York Times, we thought John Eligon took that approach in his front-page news report on Tuesday morning, March 30.

There's no such thing as a perfect report, and Eligon's report wasn't perfect. That said, we thought he tilted toward professionalism in the way he described the opening statements—the opening statements of both sides.

Displaying a bit of Americanism, Eligon was even willing to report what the defense had said! He may have done so imperfectly, but there's no such thing as perfection.

With that in mind, what claims had defense attorney Eric Nelson made in his opening statement? 

Perhaps surprisingly, Nelson had said that the evidence was going to show that Chauvin had followed department procedures in his use of force against the late George Floyd. 

("You will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19-year career.")

That claim may have surprising. Given our love of American values, we're all going to wait to see the evidence Nelson presents in support of that claim.

Nelson made an additional claim about the actual cause of death. This takes us in a technical direction, but the attorney;s key statement was this:

"The evidence will show that Mr. Floyd died of a cardiac arrhythmia that occurred as a result of hypertension, his coronary disease, the ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl and the adrenaline flowing through his body, all of which acted to further compromise an already compromised heart."

What was the actual cause of death? How should a juror's assessment of that question affect his or her verdict in this case?

Like you, we aren't medical specialists at this site. Were we jurors in this case, we'd have to listen, with great care, to the medical evidence presented during the trial. 

Showing his love of American values, Eligon went so far as to report what Nelson had said about the cause of death. Here in this country, journalists want to get the information out before they start announcing their views—their views about a murder trial in which no evidence had been presented as of last Monday at noon.

Because we love our American values, we the people always insist that our journalists provide information first. But is that what happened at CNN right after those opening statements?

You can judge that question for yourselves by reviewing the CNN transcripts (such as they are). The channel's discussion started late in the 11 A.M. hour, then continued on past noon.

The opening statements had been delivered; CNN now began its discussion. We would describe what happened as follows:

John King made an extremely modest attempt to report what had been said. We'd be inclined to say that his selection of details favored the prosecution.

King then threw to legal analyst Laura Coates, and the following exchange occurred. Could a person possibly think that it was somewhat clownish? 

KING (3/30/21): Mr. Floyd's final pleas of "I can't breathe" mushrooms, of course, into a national, indeed an international, conversation on race and on policing. Millions marching in a summer of discontent and disruption here in the United States after watching Mr. Floyd, a black man, being restrained with a white police officer's knee on his neck.

Today, that Officer Derek Chauvin faces multiple charges second degree, unintentional murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. It is a diverse jury hearing this case one black woman, two multiracial woman, two white men, three black men and four white women. They will decide his fate over a trial that could last up to a month.

Let's bring in right now our key contributors on this. CNN contributor Laura Coates, and Charles Ramsey, the former chief of the Philadelphia and D.C. Police Departments. 

Laura, let me start with you and what you heard in the courtroom. This is just the opening statements. It is the beginning. Mr. Jerry Blackwell, the lead prosecutor, I thought making a very effective, methodical presentation about the nine minutes and 29 seconds, the final nine minutes and 29 seconds to Mr. Floyd's life, essentially saying that, whatever you think happened here, what you see with your own eyes is indefensible.

Mr. Nelson, Eric Nelson, the defense attorney, they're trying to say this is about a lot more than that. Mr. Floyd was there for a long period of time, he lied to police officers, he was high, he struggled with police officers and you have to take into account the officers were dealing with a crowd that they at least perceived to be a threat. 

Just as a veteran attorney, your sense so far of the opening statements.

COATES: I give no weight to the defense's opening statement whatsoever...

Perhaps a bit heatedly, Coates proceeded from there. Day after day, we'd be inclined to describe her work as that of a "hangin' pundit."

King had made the barest attempt to report what the two sides had said. At this point, he hadn't even mentioned the fact that there would be competing claims about the cause of death.

Does King love our American values, or is he just another hireling of tribal corporate media? We ask that question for this reason:

He threw to Coates, and she made a statement we would regard as perhaps and possibly just a tiny bit clownish. Last evening, Velshi's  segment about the trial proceeded in a somewhat similar way, even in spite of his tease. 

Do we love our American legal system and our Enlightenment values? Or are we perhaps a somewhat comical mob, possibly milling about in the streets, vastly pleased by the chance to hear the preapproved tales we prefer?

Almost all our "cable news" works that way. Has trial coverage been different? 

Tomorrow: CNN pundit blows right past a bit of videotape


29 comments:

  1. Velshi: "But is it enough to leave a reasonable doubt with the jury?"

    Somerby: "Was some sort of reasonable doubt being planted in some juror's mind? We have no way of answering that question. Just to be honest, neither did Velshi, and neither did Velshi's guests."

    Note that Velshi did not make a statement. He too asked a question.

    Somerby, by repeatedly saying that Velshi does not know the answer to that question, implies that Velshi had made a statement. But Velshi did not make a statement. He explored a question, as it is his job to do.

    It is a sorry state when pundits are not permitted to ask questions without Somerby getting bent out of shape.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Somerby has reached the "Acceptance" stage of being a Right-winger. You can tell because his arguments are nonsense.

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  2. "Tomorrow, we'll show you what the "criminal defense attorney" said as she started the segment's discussion. "

    Why not give us the information needed to participate in this thread today, when we need it?

    Why does Somerby always leave out the things his readers need to form an opinion? This is how Somerby puts his fingers and thumbs all over those scales. We are left without the means to contest whatever odd thing he wishes to say, since we don't know which statement by that defense attorney he is going to bring forth in his complaint tomorrow.

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    Replies
    1. Even as Somerby withholds information from his readers, he complains when Velshi does the same to him:

      "you'd almost think that American journalists would want to report the content of those presentations before they started telling us rubes what we should think about them. "

      Velshi reasonably assumes that the "rubes" (an ugly term that Somerby uses to show that he is no elitist) watched the trial or read about it elsewhere, since his job is commentary, not straight reporting.

      Delete
  3. "Does King love our American values, or is he just another hireling of tribal corporate media?"

    Our advice: you need to analyze this shit in a more systemic way, dear Bob, and care less (or better not at all), about individual dembot clowns.

    No one cares what each particular dembot loves or doesn't love. It's completely, utterly beside the point.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Somerby doesn't understand the difference between a commentator or pundit and a reporter. They play different roles on cable news stations.

    Telling the difference between reporting and commentary requires that you listen to the words that those journalists are saying. When someone says "I believe" or "I think" or "I wonder" it is different than reporting a fact, such as "Defense attorneys yesterday said..."

    Somerby harping on "American values" is offensive because he conflates his own opinions with those values. I believe his opinion is wrong, but it is more wrong to claim that America agrees with him about something when he has presented no evidence whatsoever that his view is consensus in our country, nor that his view is institutionalized in any way in journalistic tradition or values. It isn't.

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  5. “we aren't medical specialists at this site.”

    Medical knowledge is not really needed here, unless you are willing to believe that Floyd would have died at that exact moment even if he had not encountered the police, or that the police did everything perfectly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or that Floyd would have died even if the police had called EMTs and gotten him immediate medical aid.

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    2. Tasing someone, for example, could result in their death if they have certain medical conditions. Whereas, if they didn't have the condition, they would not be as likely to die. So, yes, medical conditions are relevant. (I personally believe tasers are more lethal than they're portrayed to be, but they are still used.) Floyd may not have died at that exact same moment if he hadn't had coronary disease and drugs in his system. The question is if Chauvin's actions would've caused his death without the medical conditions, and if Chauvin knew this and was intentionally trying to kill him.

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    3. 2:03, Chauvin isn’t being charged with intentionally killing Floyd. Check out the charges: https://www.newsweek.com/derek-chauvin-charges-why-accused-manslaughter-murder-george-floyd-1579771
      He is charged with unintentional murder (and manslaughter). The question then becomes: was Floyd’s death a result, albeit unintentional, of Chauvin's action/inaction? That is why the defense introduced the medical stuff, to try to get people to think Floyd’s death was not the result of the police action/inaction, which, in my view, is pretty far fetched.

      Delete
  6. A jury found OJ Simpson not-guilty, but public opinion has never supported that finding. It is ludicrous to think that someone else committed those crimes. Simpson's "dream team" provided a thin justification that the jury used to evade the verdict they should have produced.

    When there was a miscarriage of justice, the only recourse the family of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman had was to make sure the public understood what happened, even if the criminal trial jury refused to convict OJ. Juries can and do get it wrong sometimes.

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  7. “Were we jurors in this case, we'd have to listen, with great care, to the medical evidence presented during the trial.”

    Somerby would likely have been stricken from serving on the jury. Had the prosecutor asked: “Do you believe that cops can sometimes abuse their authority and engage in misconduct?”, Somerby has already answered that question:

    “A lot of people get shot and killed by police officers in the U.S. We'll repeat the points we feel we should make every day:

    As far as we know, no police misconduct is involved in the bulk of such cases.”
    http://dailyhowler.blogspot.com/2020/09/the-disappeared-and-dead-why-was.html

    That shows a pro-police bias.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "COATES: I give no weight to the defense's opening statement whatsoever..."

    In those ... are the reasons why Coates didn't give weight to the defense's statement. But we aren't allowed to hear that, to know what she said to support her statement.

    This is how Somerby puts his thumb on the scales, how Somerby "disappears" what was said so that he can characterize Coates as a "hanging pundit" and not an expert making a reasoned evaluation.

    Somerby pretends to value even-handedness, but he doesn't treat those he criticizes fairly. He pretends to be fair, but he isn't fair to those he dislikes.

    Somerby is rooting for the defense and that's why he considers the summaries and remarks about the defense to be biased. But he pretends that HE is the only fair person and that the judgments made by others watching the trial are wrong, not for valid reasons, but because no one except himself values fairness. And that is a lot of hooey.

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    1. Here is what Coates went on to say, to justify her giving no weight to the defense's opening statement:

      "I give no weight to the defense's opening statement whatsoever, because the bulk of their statements have to do with that very notion of a crowd of information that they would have known perhaps about whether George Floyd actually had illegal substances in his body. Do you think you would learn after the fact not in terms of what the conduct of George Floyd was? It's very difficult to be able to focus in on this case; it's not about the crowd. It's not about the protests afterwards. It's not about prior arrests or prior incidents. It's about what happened. And what we initially thought was just eight minutes and 46 seconds, John.

      But you pointed out precisely at the expansion to nine minutes and 20 seconds showed you a whole different side than we even thought was possible, exponentially raising the temperature in the room here to show that not only was Derrick - was George Floyd on the ground unresponsive what we saw begging for his life.

      But there were crowds of people in that very compelling video who were shouting out, please take his pulse. Don't you see he is unresponsive and saying, look at you; you're enjoying this, aren't you? Your body language tells me you're enjoying this. That was testimony that is invaluable for a jury to hear them to see what was happening in real time from a different vantage point."

      Note that she is saying that the defense is raising information that was not available to the police at the scene, and that there was contrary information that invalidated what the defense said. Coates is using the evidence to decide about the worth of the defense statement, not relying on her own "hanging" biases as Somerby claims.

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  9. There's a good chance that Chauvin gets off, so prepare for riots, burning, and lootings, my fellow Americans. There will be such a torching that the smoke from the out of control fires will probably block out the sun and send the world into a new ice age. The result will be racial harmony, with the unexpected benefit of ending global warming! I welcome this great American adventure, and to show my loyalty to the cause, I will invite the crowds to help me burn my own house down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sadly true. Holding cops accountable for murdering a black person gets in the way of the white supremacy/ status quo.

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    2. Thoughts and prayers for those buildings.

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    3. Do we hold black people accountable for the 90% of violent deaths of other black people, which is the real world. Stop pretending that if only the Police just acted perfectly, the black community would be free of senseless violence. There were 13 people shot in Chicago last night, none by the police.

      Delete
    4. @2:40, of course we do. Murder is illegal no matter who does it, and no matter the race of the victim. But this is off topic, just as all the non-police white people who murdered white victims yesterday are off topic.

      Delete
    5. 2:40,
      Hear. Hear.
      Black people who kill black people no more deserve qualified immunity than the police do.

      Delete
    6. @2:58, yes, of course murderers are punished for their crimes, regardless of race. That's not the problem.

      The problem is that by pretty much ignoring black on black crime, we are instituting policies that result in a lot more black murder victims. In simplified terms, high crime neighborhoods need more police protection, but many cities are instituting policies that produce less police protection. That's why murder rates are going up.

      Delete
    7. No one is ignoring crime (black on black or white on white or any combination). There are lots of black murder victims because white people insisting on using recreational illegal drugs.

      Delete
  10. I'm not sure why Somerby is worried about what was said in the defense opening statement -- it isn't a presentation of evidence and is intended to direct the jurors' attention to aspects of the case that will be presented. It has no impact on the general public at all.

    ReplyDelete
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