MINNEAPOLIS — Expressing grave concern that the City of Minneapolis’s $27 million settlement with the family of George Floyd last week will tarnish his client, the lawyer for Derek Chauvin asked the judge on Monday to delay the trial and move it outside of the city.
The lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, also asked that the seven jurors already picked to serve on the case be brought back in for further questioning.
“The fact this came in the middle of jury selection is perplexing,” Mr. Nelson told Judge Peter A. Cahill.
Judge Cahill agreed that the settlement could impact the criminal case, saying he would consider a postponement. He said the timing was “unfortunate.”
“I wish city officials would stop talking about this case so much,” he said in court, “but at the same time I don’t find any evil intent that they are trying to tamper with this criminal case.”
Judge Cahill said he would also re-interview the seven people who were seated on the jury last week, to see what they know about the settlement.
As jury selection resumed on Monday, the first person, a woman identified only as juror No. 51, was quickly dismissed because she said she heard news of last week’s civil settlement on the radio and “almost gasped” at the size of it. She said she already had a strong opinion about the case, and that after hearing about the payout to the Floyd family she felt she could not be impartial.
The settlement is the largest in a police conduct case in Minneapolis history and one of the largest ever in the country.
Seating a jury was already seen as a difficult task, with the death of Mr. Floyd, who was Black, sparking protests nationwide and a renewed movement for police accountability. The last moments of Mr. Floyd’s life were captured on graphic cellphone video that showed Mr. Chauvin, who was fired from the Police Department, kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes.
The city said its settlement was independent of the trial, but legal experts said it could play into the minds of jurors. It could send a message to jurors that the city believes that what Mr. Chauvin did was inappropriate, said Mary Moriarty, the former chief public defender in Minneapolis.
“I don’t think it helps Chauvin at all,” she said. “I think it’s pretty prejudicial.”and John Eligon