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The judge presiding over the Derek Chauvin murder trial in Minnesota slammed congresswoman Maxine Waters’ “abhorrent” behavior in open court on Monday.
Chauvin faces life in prison if found guilty of first degree murder in the death of George Floyd.
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Waters, a Los Angeles congresswoman, traveled to Brooklyn Center, Minnesota to “incite violence” if Chauvin is acquitted of murder.
Judge Peter Cahill responded to a defense request for a mistrial over the comments made by Waters.
Chauvin’s defense raised concerns with the judge over the impact the congresswoman’s inflammatory words may have over the jury.
The judge had strong words for Ms. Waters before denying the defense’s request for a mistrial.
The judge said Waters’ words may be enough to overturn any guilty verdict on appeal.
“Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” Cahill said.
Cahill slammed Waters’ behavior as “abhorrent” and “disrespectful”.
“I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case,” said Cahill, “especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function.”
He added that “if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful way and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution, to respect the co-equal branch of government.”
He continued: “Their failure to do so I think is abhorrent, but I don’t think it’s prejudiced us with additional material that would prejudice this jury. They have been told not to watch the news. I trust they are following those instructions and that there is not in any way a prejudice to the defendant beyond the articles that were talking specifically about the facts of this case.”
Waters responded to the controversy on Monday morning, telling theGrio.com that the “KKK and other white supremacists” are blowing her words out of proportion.
“Republicans will jump on any word, any line and try to make it fit their message and their cause for denouncing us and denying us, basically calling us violent … any time they see an opportunity to seize on a word, so they do it and they send a message to all of the white supremacists, the KKK, the Oath Keepers, the [Proud] Boys and all of that, how this is a time for [Republicans] to raise money on [Democrats] backs,” Waters said.