Judge in Chauvin Trial Rebukes Waters Over Call for Protesters to 'Get More Confrontational’ & Warns Case May Be Overturned on Appeal
Were Waters’s comments disrespectful of the judicial process & incitement of violence?
by Causes | 4.19.21
What’s the story?
- Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, who is presiding over the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd, rebuked Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) after she called for protesters to “get more confrontational” and warned that her statements could lead to the trial being overturned on appeal.
- Waters spoke to the media at a weekend rally in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, where she said she is looking “for a guilty verdict” on a murder charge and that protesters will need to “fight for justice” before adding:
“We’ve got to stay on the street and we’ve got to get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”
- Judge Cahill addressed the comments made by Waters after Chauvin’s lawyers made a motion for a mistrial on the grounds that her comments and others would prejudice the jury:
“Well, I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned. I’m aware that Congresswoman Waters was talking specifically about this trial, and about the unacceptability of anything less than a murder conviction, and talk about being confrontational. But you can submit the press articles about that.
This goes back to what I’ve been saying from the beginning. I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law, and to the judicial branch and our function. I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution, to respect a coequal branch of government.
Their failure to do so I think is abhorrent, but I don’t think it has prejudices with additional material that would prejudice this jury. They were told not to watch the news. I trust they are following those instructions, and that there is not in any way a prejudice to the defendant beyond the articles that were talking specifically about the facts of this case. A congresswoman’s opinion really doesn't matter a whole lot. Anyway, so motion for mistrial is denied.”
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters on Monday that she doesn’t think Waters should apologize and that, “Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the civil rights movement.”
- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced that is planning to introduce a resolution to censure Waters for her comments in a tweet which read:
“This weekend in Minnesota, Maxine Waters broke the law by violating curfew and then incited violence. Speaker Pelosi is ignoring Waters’ behavior―that’s why I am introducing a resolution to censure Rep. Waters for these dangerous comments.”
- Censure is one of the most severe forms of punishment the House of Representatives can mete out, second only to expulsion. The last member of the House to be censured was former Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) in 2010 over ethics violations and unpaid taxes.
- A censure resolution offered by McCarthy would receive privileged floor consideration under the House rules because he is the minority leader, and Democrats will offer a motion to table it when he brings it up. If the motion to table fails, a vote on the censure of Waters would follow.
— Eric Revell
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