Appeals Court: Derek Chauvin can't make oral arguments unless he hires a lawyer

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Imprisoned former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who claims he's indigent, won't get to make oral arguments in the appeal of his murder conviction in the death of George Floyd unless he hires a lawyer, the state Court of Appeals said Friday.

"Because (Chauvin) is currently unrepresented in this appeal, oral argument is not permitted," Court of Appeals Judge Matthew Johnson wrote. "If (Chauvin) later obtains counsel, however, he may file a motion with this court requesting oral argument."

Earlier this week, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea denied Chauvin's request for an appellate public defender in his appeal. Gildea said Chauvin failed to prove that he lacked the funds to pay for his own lawyer. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill had previously also denied Chauvin's request for a free appellate lawyer.

Chauvin is serving a 22 1/2-year sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Oak Park Heights. He was convicted in Hennepin County District Court in April of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death.

If he isn't allowed to make oral arguments, Chauvin would only be able to make his appeal in writing. He has already submitted a claim to the appellate court raising 14 issues.

In a signed affidavit claiming poverty and petitioning for a free public defender, Chauvin wrote that he is $142,000 in debt and lacks income.

"My only assets are two retirement accounts," he wrote. "If I take funds from said accounts, I will be significantly penalized, and the remainder will likely be taken to pay off debts. I also owe the IRS about $60,000 and the state about $37,000."

His affidavit didn't indicate how much he has in those accounts.

In addition to federal civil rights charges in Floyd's death and from an unrelated case, Chauvin and his ex-wife Kellie, whom he divorced after he was charged in Floyd's death, face state tax evasion charges.

The Minnesota Peace and Police Officers Association paid for Chauvin's defense attorney Eric Nelson on the state charges. Nelson declined to comment this week on whether he would represent Chauvin on appeal.

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747

Twitter: @rochelleolson

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