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Derek Chauvin Hires Law Firm with History of Representing Right-Wing Causes to Appeal Murder Conviction


Derek Chauvin’s post-conviction mugshot (courtesy Minnesota Department of Corrections).

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd, finally has a lawyer for his criminal appeal.

According to Minnesota court filings, William F. Mohrman will represent Chauvin as he challenges his April conviction.

Mohrman officially filed a notice to appear as Chauvin’s counsel on Friday, the document shows.

Chauvin was convicted of murder in the May 2020 death of George Floyd. Video showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck during an arrest for the alleged use of a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store.

Chauvin had asked for a new trial in May, after the verdict, but Judge Peter Cahill denied this request. In June, Chauvin was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison.

Earlier this month, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the Office of the Minnesota Appellate Public Defender’s (OMAPD) denial of Chauvin’s request for representation. Chauvin claimed he didn’t have the funds to cover the cost of a private attorney.

“Due to my incarceration, I do not have the sufficient means to retain private counsel for the appeal,” Chauvin said in a Sept. 23 filing. “I currently have no source income, besides nominal prison wages, nor do I own any real property or vehicles. I am currently unmarried and have no dependents.”

“My only assets are two retirement accounts,” Chauvin said in the filing. “I would face a significant penalty for early access to these retirement funds.”

“The district court case for which I intend to appeal was paid for by the Minneapolis Peace and Police Officer’s Association, and I have been informed that their obligation to pay for my representation terminated upon my conviction and sentencing,” Chauvin also said in his filing.

In September, Chauvin applied for in forma pauperis status, which would have gotten him off the hook for court fees and costs. Cahill, the judge in Chauvin’s trial, initially granted that request, before walking it back the next day, apparently deciding that Chauvin did indeed have the means to pay for his own attorney.

Chauvin is also facing federal civil rights charges.

Floyd’s death while in police custody sparked months of racial justice marches and rallies nationwide, with many demanding changes to police practices at both the state and federal level. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has passed twice in the House of Representatives, but has stalled out in the Senate.

Morhman’s firm, Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, is no stranger to high-profile legal battles in the ever-expanding culture wars. One lawyer represented a group challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin, claiming “integrity issues.” Erick Kaardal sued then-Vice President Mike Pence while acting as Special Counsel for the Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society — only to end up being referred by a federal judge to a grievance committee (Kaardal is appealing the judge’s referral). Another attorney at the firm, Greg Ericksonrepresents health care workers in a “medical freedom” case over the coronavirus vaccine. Mohrman was recently co-counsel on a case challenging a local ordinance that forbade a woman from photographing children near a Bloomington, Minnesota park and mosque.

Attorney Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lawyer at the trial and in the federal case, is not representing Chauvin on appeal.

[Image via Minnesota Department of Corrections.]

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