Criminal Defense Attorney Joe Tamburino Goes In-Depth On Derek Chauvin's Trial

Esme Murphy spoke with Joe Tamburino about the city's settlement with George Floyd's family, jury selection and more (5:59). WCCO Sunday Morning - March 14, 2021

Video Transcript

ESME MURPHY: And you just heard criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino, our legal analyst for the Chauvin case, in that piece. Earlier this morning, I spoke to him more in depth about the impact on the case, as well as jury selection.

And joining us now is criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino. Thank you so much for joining us again.

JOE TAMBURINO: Thank you for having me. Good morning.

ESME MURPHY: Good morning. You know, we just heard in my colleague David Schuman's piece your analysis and the analysis from Mary Moriarty of this $27 million settlement. There's an additional wrinkle that has popped up here. And that's "The Washington Post" is reporting that the city-- an unnamed city official says that the city was concerned about the timing of the settlement, reached out to the chief judge of Hennepin County, Toddrick Barnette, and that he, Judge Barnette, actually said go ahead.

What are your thoughts about that, if it's true? We don't know independently if it's true, and we have not gotten a comment from Judge Barnette or a whole host of people that could potentially know.

JOE TAMBURINO: Well, sure. If we know that it's true, it is very concerning because what that does is, number one, it puts the court system on notice that this whole press conference is about to happen, a press conference that is unprecedented. I've never seen anything like that at this stage of the game.

ESME MURPHY: You mean the press conference with the Floyd family.

JOE TAMBURINO: And second, if he did know, did he tell--

ESME MURPHY: The press conference with the Floyd family--

JOE TAMBURINO: That's right.

ESME MURPHY: --that occurred on Friday with city officials with the mayor. You're saying that press conference is unprecedented because of the timing or just in general?

JOE TAMBURINO: Both. Number one is the timing most. We're not talking anything about whether or not the award is correct or not correct. That's a separate issue. We're talking about the timing. You see, because right now, during jury selection, I've never seen in Minnesota history where you would have this kind of case, the biggest case in Minnesota, history first one televised-- eyes of the nation and the world are on it.

And during jury selection, you have the chief executive of the city, the mayor, the head of the city council, the city attorney himself, with all the plaintiff's attorneys and all the parties on the plaintiff's side announcing this award. And of course it could have an effect on the jury. But if the chief judge did know-- and we don't know if that's true, but let's assume it is just for argument's sake-- we have to know two other questions.

Did he do something about it? Did he tell other judges? Did he talk to the court system? Or if he didn't do that, why didn't he do that? Because those are very important matters.

ESME MURPHY: I mean, when you say why didn't he do it, again, this is a report in "The Washington Post" saying that the city went to the chief judge, Judge Barnette, and said, is it OK to go ahead and announce this verdict? We have not independently at WCCO verified that. We have reached out to the chief judge for a comment. We have not gotten any comment from others in the city, from the mayor's office, from the city council.

But in terms of that potentially being true, you're saying that there are potential consequences of that, that that almost takes it to a different level.

JOE TAMBURINO: Yes, it does, because nobody wants this to happen. I mean, certainly the trial judge doesn't want this to happen because he wants to conduct a fair and impartial trial. The prosecutors don't want this to happen because they, too, want a fair trial. They don't want to have someone convicted and then win on appeal and have to try the case again.

And of course, the defense doesn't want this because they want a fair trial because it's their client whose freedom is in jeopardy. So something like this could have such a great impact that something has to be done. I mean, you just can't start off tomorrow morning saying, full speed ahead. There has to be some type of inquiries.

ESME MURPHY: All right. Well, let's talk about the jury selection process so far. I've actually been really impressed with how the process has gone. I think the fact that it's on television really opens it up for a lot of people. What is your-- what are your thoughts about how the process has gone so far, just in terms of the jury selection?

JOE TAMBURINO: I agree, it's gone very, very well. And something about cameras in the courtroom, there's no turning back. Obviously this is the way to proceed because everyone gets to see what a fair process this is.

Think about it, the biggest case in Minnesota history, and this has been expeditiously mannered. It's-- we have seven jurors, three of which are people of color, very diverse jury. We have people who are from very different backgrounds and backgrounds involving some very technical matters. This is a very fair process that's been done extremely well. And hats off for the whole system with pulling this off this far.

ESME MURPHY: Right. And I think there's been so much hype around this, to actually see it and see it in its basic form, where you've got the defense attorney, you know, presenting his case, saying, you know, we need to make sure this man has a fair trial, despite all of the hype, all of the publicity. There's something really decent about it that I think really has come through. And anybody can certainly watch on CBSN, you know, Minnesota. It so far has gone so well, and everybody was all worried about the TV cameras.

JOE TAMBURINO: You're absolutely right. Because what happened was the judge is allowing both sides to question at will, take as much time as they want. If you've noticed, the judge has never once said to either side, hurry this up. Speed this along. You've already asked that question, anything like that. He's been giving them free rein.

And it is really important for the public to see. Because in today's world, for some reason, there's so much distrust of government. To actually see our local government in action and doing a very fine job at it, it's very important for the public to know that.

ESME MURPHY: All right. Well, criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino, thank you so much for joining us this morning and helping WCCO throughout to analyze the very important trial that this is. So thank you again, Joe.

JOE TAMBURINO: Thank you. Anytime.

ESME MURPHY: And WCCO will be streaming live from the courtroom at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning, when the judge takes up some motions before jury selection begins at 9:00. You can watch live coverage on CBSN Minnesota.