MINNEAPOLIS — Derek Chauvin’s murder trial was the first Minnesota criminal trial to be broadcast live on television. It won’t be the last.
Some in the Minnesota legal system were apprehensive about allowing the live broadcast of Chauvin’s trial over the killing of George Floyd, but the video feed had no major problems and bolstered the public’s understanding of the trial, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.
A spokesperson for the Hennepin County court system said an order from Judge Peter Cahill to allow the live broadcast will still apply to the August trial of the other three former Minneapolis officers charged in Floyd’s death, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao.
Cahill ordered the trials to be broadcast live because of the intense global interest in the case and limited courthouse space due to the pandemic.
Minnesota court rules usually ban cameras at criminal trials unless both sides agree to them. Although Chauvin’s attorney quickly welcomed the live broadcast, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison argued against allowing the live broadcast because he said it could intimidate witnesses.
But a week after the jury found Chauvin guilty, Ellison told WCCO-TV that the live broadcast “went pretty well” and he was grateful the judge allowed juvenile witnesses to testify off camera.
Cahill also barred jurors’ faces from being televised.
Hennepin County Chief Judge Toddrick Barnette said he was also a longtime skeptic of cameras in the courtroom. He met with journalists and media attorneys ahead of the trial and worked closely with Court TV, which operated the cameras and provided its video feed to other news outlets.
“Over time, I felt more comfortable that they were really interested in the integrity of the process, and worked very hard to make sure there were no violations of Judge Cahill’s order,” Barnette said.
Barnette said one of the biggest benefits of televising the trial was that the public learned about the process, from jury selection to the final verdict. Chauvin was convicted last week of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He’ll be sentenced June 25.