ILLINOIS (WMBD) — The nation is still reacting after former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday, April 20, on all three counts of killing George Floyd last May.
He’s scheduled for sentencing in June, but some local legal experts say the case could continue beyond that.
The three-week-long jury trial is just the beginning for Derek Chauvin and his defense team in the courtroom, with Chauvin likely to appeal his guilty verdict. A reduced sentence and jury intimidation are two major reasons legal experts say convicted murderer Chauvin will appeal.
Director of Legal Studies at Illinois State University Tom McClure said it’s a lengthy process.
“It’s going be a lot more than eight weeks because this case is going to the appellate court, so it’s going to be longer than eight months easily. I’d be very surprised if this case is decided by the appellate court by the end of this year,” McClure said.
Brendan Bukalski, a managing partner at Johnson Law Group, said counsel has to convince an appellate court to take on the case.
“The appellate court for instance could order a new trial, the appellate court could modify his sentence or reman the case for a trial court to do so,” Bukalski said. “The appellate court could sustain the conviction and it could be appealed from there.”
Chauvin and his defense team are likely to argue comments made by U.S. Rep Maxine Waters to “get confrontational” if found innocent, intimidated the jury. However, McClure said if the defense can prove that, it could alter the outcome.
“Defense has a very heavy burden. The defendant has to show that the comments prejudiced the jury,” McClure said.
However, the next immediate step is his sentencing hearing in eight weeks. Bukalski said sentence length varies state-to-state.
“Chauvin’s primary concern is probably going to be with his sentencing having been found guilty because obviously if he’s facing a very lengthy sentence, and that’s what he receives, there is no disadvantage in him appealing everything he can,” Bukalski said.
As for length, Bukalski said the judge will consider all aspects of Chauvin’s life; good and bad when making the determination.
“It’s tough to say what the judge might impose. Chauvin is somebody who had a number of complaints for excessive force and other things levied against him isn’t entirely unblemished,” Bukalski said. “But, I imagine the things he did as a police officer, that’s the kind of thing the defense might try to use to minimize the sentence.”
Chauvin’s defense attorneys have 60 days to let the court know if they will appeal the jury’s decision.