Prospective jurors in the George Floyd trial are being asked about their views on Black Lives Matter, policing and criminal justice as they’re being considered for the upcoming criminal trial in Minnesota District Court.
The 16-page document also asks potential jurors about this year’s protests that demanded justice in wake of killings of Black Americans — including Floyd, a Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes while Floyd said he couldn’t breathe.
Chauvin faces second-degree unintentional murder and manslaughter charges. Three officers who were also present when Floyd died in May — J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane — are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.
The four men, who were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department, will stand trial together in March in Hennepin County, Minnesota, a judge ruled in November.
In Tuesday’s jury questionnaire, one question asks if the potential juror participated in marches or demonstrations against police brutality after Floyd’s death: “If you participated, did you carry a sign? What did it say?”
Another one reads: “Do you believe your community has been negatively or positively affected by any of the protests that have taken place in the Twin-Cities area since George Floyd’s death?”
According to the National Legal Research Group, jury questionnaires are commonly used to gather information for jury selection. Jurors often complete the questionnaires when they arrive at court. But in some cases, the questionnaires are sent with the jurors’ summonses for service and are completed by mail.
The questionnaires often run 15 to 30 pages, but some reach 50 or more pages, the group says.
In court, selected jurors will be asked to verify their survey answers and may be questioned with more detail in a process known as voir dire — where jurors are questioned first by the judge, then by each attorney. According to U.S. Courts and Minnesota Courts, a criminal jury consists of 12 jurors.
Tuesday’s questionnaire is broken into six parts, including sections that address knowledge of the case, media habits and experience with law enforcement.
“Have you, or someone close to you, ever been arrested for a crime?” reads one question. “If yes, how did the police handle the arrest?”
Sliding scales between “strongly agree” and “strongly disagree” are also provided — on statements such as “Discrimination is not as bad as the media makes it out to be,” “Blacks and other minorities do not receive equal treatment as whites in the criminal
justice system” and “I support defunding the Minneapolis Police Department.”
Other questions address personal background, opinions toward the justice system and ability to serve on the trial.
“No corner of the State of Minnesota has been shielded from pretrial publicity regarding the death of George Floyd. Because of that pervasive media coverage, a change of venue is unlikely to cure the taint of potential prejudicial pretrial publicity,” Judge Peter Cahill wrote last month.
Contributing: The Associated Press.