Attorney David Weinstein Shares Reaction To Verdict In Derek Chauvin Murder Trial

Weinstein is with Hinshaw law firm in Coral Gables. He also served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida for more than a decade.

Video Transcript

- And right now, let's go to David Weinstein. David is a former assistant US attorney and is currently with the Hinshaw Culbertson law firm.

- And David, I know you've been following this case closely. What's your reaction to this verdict?

DAVID WEINSTEIN: Well, [? Lauren ?] and [? Elliot, ?] I'm not surprised that there's a guilty verdict. Nor am I surprised at how some people think this was a quick verdict. They spent 10 hours over the course of two days. They heard 14 days worth of testimony. So that's only about four hours short of what I expected.

What I am surprised was that it was an across-the-board verdict. This means that these jurors went back and they felt that what Derek Chauvin did was not what a reasonable police officer would do. And that decision, once they made it, made it easy for them to convict him of all three charges, because that was at the core of what they had to consider for all three of these charges.

- David, you've handled many criminal trials in your career. Give me your impression of what you saw from this prosecution team. A lot of people thought that maybe they were calling too many expert witnesses and this was dragging on and they were possibly boring the members of the jury. What did you think of their performance?

DAVID WEINSTEIN: I thought they did an excellent job, [? Elliot. ?] You know, there is no magic number as to how many witnesses you can call. And they expected the defense. And the defense did this. They attacked their experts. So they needed to call a significant number of experts. And contrary to what we all see on television, not every witness is a really exciting witness. So they did the best that they could with these witnesses.

But they set it out. And it obviously paid off, because the jurors were able to rely on the testimony of these experts to determine, without hearing from Derek Chauvin, but from looking at the video and seeing what happened, that his reaction was not one that a reasonable officer, a reasonably trained police officer, would have undertaken in these circumstances. So it paid off for the prosecution to call all those witnesses.

- Of course, Derek Chauvin has a right to an appeal. In fact, the judge himself actually seemed to tee up grounds for an appeal by mentioning some comments from a Democratic lawmaker. A lot of people upset that the judge mentioned something like that in the courtroom. So what opportunities, if any, do you see for the defense team to seize upon as far as an appeal goes?

DAVID WEINSTEIN: Well, they objected to a number of different lines of questioning and evidence presented during the course of the trial. Those are errors that are naturally occurring in most trials. As to the comments that are made outside of the courtroom, without the judge sitting down each and every one of these jurors to ask them, did you hear any comments made outside of the courtroom? Did that affect your verdict? Did that affect your deliberations? It's a bit of a red Herring of an issue.

But look, people shouldn't comment outside the courtroom of what takes place. But each of these jurors took an oath and they said they would not listen to what happened outside the courtroom, they would only pay attention to what was said inside the courtroom. Perhaps it was not the best comment for somebody to have made outside with a huge audience watching. But as long as those jurors didn't hear and then rely upon that comment, that's not a reason to affect this verdict.

- David, final question. The jury has spoken. Sentencing is now in eight weeks. What's the maximum that Derek Chauvin is facing?

DAVID WEINSTEIN: Well, under the statute for the highest crime he was convicted, he's looking at a statutory maximum of 40 years. But as we all know, that's not necessarily what he's going to receive. The guidelines that he's looking at are between 10 and 1/2 to 15 years. Now, the judge can exceed those guidelines if there are certain aggravating factors. He talked about the Blakely factors that he should be considering.

So the prosecution is certainly going to submit aggravating factors. The defense will submit mitigating factors. But his sentence is a suggested range of about 10 and 1/2 to 15 years. Given the fact that he's convicted of three different crimes but from the same victim, the judge could sentence him all the way up to 40 years.

He'll serve about 2/3 of that time. There's no parole in Minnesota. So I would imagine that he's certainly going to be looking at something at the top end of the sentencing range, perhaps 15 to 20 years. I don't know that he's going to be looking at 40 years.

- David Weinstein, thank you very much for your insight.