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Opinion: Why Chauvin’s Conviction is not a Victory for Justice

As a practicing lawyer and a certified counsel of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict, in my opinion, is not a victory for justice. Instead, it begs the fundamental question of a deflated criminal justice system in the United States driven by racial profiling and prejudice against people of color.

The real challenge required to right the wrongs of racial injustice and abuse should is to address a system that reduces black people to cattlemen and cattlewomen only suitable to be shot at point-blank wherever found.

Chauvin is an unlucky guy trained to treat black people like pigs and goats but found himself on the wrong side of the law and abandoned to window-dress a social menace well-rooted in a white supremacist agenda.

The defense team made a powerful argument, but public sentiments fuel mistrust that the system will be business as usual, impacted mainly on the jury’s verdict. Those who celebrate Chauvin’s verdict should see him as a victim who wrongly defended a chaotic system rather than a perpetrator. As long as the system remains in place, the unusual and unfortunate situation of George Floyd will be a familiar story in the streets of America. Fight the system and stop blaming the police who are simply following orders.

The prosecution conceded that George Floyd had drugs in his system before and during his arrest. Henceforth, there were combinations of factors, including drugs and the force of the knee, that led to his death. The defense should have demanded the percentage of drugs and then argued that the strength of the knee to the neck alone was not sufficient to cause death without the drugs in his system playing a direct role. Moreover, the defense failed to be categorical that knee to the neck is part of their client’s training and was unable to give examples of how it is being used in other instances with no deaths. George Floyd’s case was exceptional because he had drugs in his system.

The defense should have argued the principles of intended and unintended consequences because there was no direct plan to kill George Floyd, but it happened unintentionally.

Murder will not hold, but manslaughter will do. The jury’s opinion became part of the prosecution’s evidence, and it impacted the outcome.

The defense should have placed the burden squarely at the feet of the state for training its police force to a terror-style tactic. They should have insisted that other black men have been killed and will be killed until the system is duly righted and reformed because of the standing policy.

The defense should have argued the principles of intended and unintended consequences because there was no direct plan to kill George Floyd, but it happened unintentionally. The defense had a good argument, but the presentation was lacking. They should have conceded by recognizing the unfortunate situation and should have disclaimed the unintended consequences by saying this is part of the training in restraining a suspect if indeed it is and then giving examples of other suspects arrested in a similar situation but did not die. But admission and avoidance or denial is a cardinal principle in trial advocacy.

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Sayma Julius Syrenius Cephus

Counselor Sayma Cephus is an internationally acclaimed counsel certified by the International Criminal Court(ICC)(The Hague), European Criminal Bar Association(ECBA), Association of Defense Counsel Practicing Before International Criminal Court and Tribunals(ADC-ICT)(The Hague), International Law Association(ILA)(London, UK), Association of European Abogados(AEA)(Madrid), European Fraud and Complaisance Lawyers(EFCL)(London, UK) & African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights(ACHPR), based in Arusha, Tanzania.
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