Derek Chauvin’s fate may be decided by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev case.
The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether or not to execute Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Wednesday, in a case that could affect former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s appeal.
In the case of United States v. Tsarnaev, the Supreme Court will consider whether the First Circuit Court of Appeals was correct in overturning Tsarnaev’s death sentence for the 2013 bombing that killed three people and injured over 260 others.
The case revolves around two issues in the federal district court that convicted Tsarnaev: whether the court erred in excluding evidence that Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was involved in a separate triple murder during the jury selection process, and whether the court erred in excluding evidence that Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was involved in a separate triple murder during the sentencing phase.
Tsarnaev was found guilty of the bombing in 2015 after a jury trial, and he was sentenced to death.
The First Circuit concluded in 2020 that throughout the 21-day jury selection process, known as the voir dire in legal terminology, the federal district court should have queried potential jurors about their exposure to media coverage involving Tsarnaev’s case.
The district court should not have withheld information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s involvement in an unrelated triple murder in 2011 during the sentencing phase, according to the First Circuit. One of the devices was set by Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Derek Chauvin has filed an appeal.
The case of United States v. Tsarnaev could have ramifications in another high-profile case: the assassination of George Floyd.
Following his conviction in Floyd’s death, Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 and a half years in jail on June 25.
In Tsarnaev’s case, the First Circuit cited “an avalanche of pretrial publicity” as a reason for overturning his death sentence. It’s possible Chauvin’s lawyers may argue that media coverage leading up to the trial corrupted the proceedings.
Judge Peter Cahill refused Chauvin’s attorneys’ plea for a new trial before his sentence in June, finding that the defense had not demonstrated prosecutorial wrongdoing or that the court had misused its discretion. A hearing concerning alleged juror misconduct was also refused by the judge.
The Supreme Court’s decision might have far-reaching consequences for Chauvin, as well as for pretrial exposure in high-profile cases in general. It’s unclear how the conservative court, which currently has a 6-3 majority, will rule. This is a condensed version of the information.