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What to Know About Jerry W. Blackwell

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The lawyer making opening arguments for the prosecution is Jerry W. Blackwell, a lawyer who has represented a series of large companies and joined the attorney general’s office just for this case on a pro bono basis, meaning he will not be paid.

In private practice, Mr. Blackwell has represented corporations including Walmart, 3M Company and General Mills, according to the website for his firm, Blackwell Burke, which is based in Minnesota. He has defended companies against lawsuits by people who said they were injured by asbestos, benzene and other potentially harmful chemicals. He has also represented companies in cases involving claims of false advertising.

Mr. Blackwell is known for his ability to untangle complicated legal issues for jurors, the website says, which could be vital in the prosecution of Mr. Chauvin, where jurors will have to evaluate the elements of second-degree and third-degree murder.

Last June, Mr. Blackwell won a posthumous pardon for Max Mason, a Black circus worker who was wrongly convicted of rape in 1920, months after three of his colleagues were lynched as a result of the false accusations. Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general overseeing the prosecution of Mr. Chauvin, had encouraged Mr. Blackwell to apply for the pardon, and he brought him on board for the Chauvin trial a month later.

Mr. Blackwell earned his law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1987, his website says, and was one of the founders of the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers.

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