Minnesota High Court Tells Chauvin He Hasn't Established Need for Public Defender

Minnesota's Supreme Court denied former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's request to be represented by a public defender, saying Chauvin has not established the need for one.

Chauvin requested to have a public defender represent him as he appeals his murder conviction and sentence in the death of George Floyd. Chauvin was convicted of murder for Floyd's death in February of this year, after kneeling on the Black man's neck for over nine minutes on May 25, 2020. He was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison.

On Wednesday, Minnesota's high court said that Chauvin has not established that he is entitled to a public defender. Chauvin has the right to an attorney under the Sixth Amendment, but the justices found that he did not meet the criteria to have a court-appointed public defender as he is able to afford his own representation.

During his initial trial, Chauvin was represented by attorney Eric Nelson. However, Nelson's law firm partner confirmed in September that "Mr. Nelson does not represent Mr. Chauvin on the state appeal at this time."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Hennepin Government Building
The Minnesota Supreme Court rejected former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's request to be represented by a public defender on October 6. Above, National Guard stand outside the Hennepin County Government Center before the opening statement of Chauvin on March 29 in Minneapolis. Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

The justices made that decision after reviewing information about Chauvin's debts and assets, as well as the Office of the Minnesota Appellate Public Defender's prior determination that Chauvin was ineligible, Chief Justice Lorie Gildea wrote.

Chauvin may seek a public defender in the future if he is unable to pay for a lawyer, the Supreme Court said.

Chauvin filed documents last month saying he intends to appeal his conviction and sentence on 14 grounds, including that his trial should have been moved from Hennepin County and the jury should have been sequestered.

Chauvin also filed an affidavit saying he has no attorney in the appeals process, and has no income aside from nominal prison wages. The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association's legal defense fund paid for his case before Judge Peter Cahill. Chauvin wrote: "I have been informed that their obligation to pay for my representation terminated upon my conviction and sentencing."

Chauvin was convicted in April on state charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's 2020 death.

Chauvin is also charged in federal court with violating Floyd's civil rights when he knelt on the Black man's neck for about 9 1/2 minutes as Floyd was face down on the pavement, not resisting and pleading for air. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Derek Chauvin Trial
On October 6, the Minnesota Supreme Court denied Derek Chauvin's request to have a public defender represent him as he appeals his murder conviction and sentence in the death of George Floyd. Above, a file image taken from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, Chauvin, address Judge Peter Cahill at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis on April 15. Court TV via AP, Pool File