Dershowitz: Maxine Waters ‘borrowed the playbook from the KKK,’ Chauvin conviction ‘should be reversed’

Lawyer Alan Dershowitz—professor emeritus at Harvard Law School—blasted Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) during an interview after the guilty verdict against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on all counts.

“The irony of what Congresswoman Waters did. She borrowed the playbook of the Ku Klux Klan from the 1920s and 1930s. They would stand outside of courtrooms, and they would threaten violence,” Dershowitz told Newsmax. “This violates the separation of powers. It insults the integrity of the independent judiciary, and Congresswoman Waters ought to be ashamed of herself. What she did was disgraceful.”

In a separate interview on Newsmax, Dershowitz stated that Chauvin’s conviction should be overturned due to the jury being tainted by outside influences.

“Well, first what was done to George Floyd by officer Chauvin was inexcusable morally, but the verdict is very questionable, because of the outside influences of people like Al Sharpton and people like Maxine Waters,” he said. “Their threats and intimidation and hanging the Sword of Damocles over the jury and basically saying, if you don’t convict on the murder charge and all the charges, the cities will burn, the country will be destroyed—seeped into the jury room because the judge made a terrible mistake by not sequestering the jury.”

“So the judge himself said this case may be reversed on appeal. And I think it might be reversed on appeal, I think it should be reversed on appeal,” he continued. “I think the American Civil Liberties Union, which would be all over this case if it weren’t a racially charged case, all Americans who care about due process and liberty should be concerned that the jury verdict may have been influenced by, if not the thumb, maybe even the elbow of the outside pressures, the fears, the threats.”

“Every juror in that room knew about these threats. And when they sit and deliberate, they have to be saying to themselves, consciously or unconsciously, if I would render a verdict other than a murder verdict, what the consequences will be for me, my family, my friends, my business,” he concluded. “That should never, ever, be allowed to seep into a jury room. So I have no real confidence that this verdict, which may be correct in some ways, but I have no confidence that this verdict was produced by due process and the rule of law rather than the influence of the crowd.”

Dershowitz later stated that the “whole judicial system has been corrupted by identity politics and by the weaponization of the criminal justice system toward particular agendas.”

TRANSCRIPT:

LINDSAY KEITH, NEWSMAX TV HOST: We are now joined by legal reaction of the verdict, constitutional law expert and author of the new book ‘The Case Against The New Censorship,’ Alan Dershowitz. Professor Dershowitz, thanks so much for being here. What is your initial reaction to this verdict?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, LEGAL EXPERT: Well, first what was done to George Floyd by officer Chauvin was inexcusable morally, but the verdict is very questionable, because of the outside influences of people like Al Sharpton and people like Maxine Waters. Their threats and intimidation and hanging the Sword of Damocles over the jury and basically saying, if you don’t convict on the murder charge and all the charges, the cities will burn, the country will be destroyed—seeped into the jury room because the judge made a terrible mistake by not sequestering the jury. So the judge himself said this case may be reversed on appeal. And I think it might be reversed on appeal, I think it should be reversed on appeal. I think the American Civil Liberties Union, which would be all over this case if it weren’t a racially charged case, all Americans who care about due process and liberty should be concerned that the jury verdict may have been influenced by, if not the thumb, maybe even the elbow of the outside pressures, the fears, the threats. Every juror in that room knew about these threats. And when they sit and deliberate, they have to be saying to themselves, consciously or unconsciously, if I would render a verdict other than a murder verdict, what the consequences will be for me, my family, my friends, my business. That should never, ever, be allowed to seep into a jury room. So I have no real confidence that this verdict, which may be correct in some ways, but I have no confidence that this verdict was produced by due process and the rule of law rather than the influence of the crowd.

KEITH: Okay, so what is the appeal process look like? Is that something that we’ll see played out in the next few days? Or is it going to take weeks or months?

DERSHOWITZ: Oh, more than weeks and months, an appeal will be filed immediately because he’s in jail, now pending appeal, there are two levels of appeal in Minnesota. And then ultimately, the case will go to the United States Supreme Court. And I think the United States Supreme Court holds the best possibility for the defense of getting this conviction reversed on the ground that the judge himself suggested the statements made by people outside the courtroom, essentially intimidating jurors, and telling them that if they don’t come to the quote, ‘right verdict,’ there will be violence and consequences and their own lives may be affected. Jurors should never, ever, have that fear or influence in their verdicts.

KEITH: I gotta ask you this. We had this morning, President Biden say that he hoped that they reach the right verdict. He said, because the jury was sequestered, that’s why he made the comments. Was he out of line by doing that?

DERSHOWITZ: No, I think he waited long enough. I think he would have been wrong to have said it. While the jury was not sequestered, when they could have heard his views, presidents have bully pulpits. But once the jury was sequestered, I think it was okay for the President to do that. Now he raised expectations. The expectations have been fulfilled, have they not been fulfilled, had the jury come back with a verdict either guilty or guilty only a manslaughter, his raising of expectations might have exacerbated the problem. But in the end, he waited. He waited until the jury was sequestered to statements were relatively moderate. So I can’t criticize him. I can criticize Waters, I can criticize Sharpton. These folks took what they did right out of the playbook of the deep south in the 1920s, when prominent public officials would whoop up the crowds in front of the courthouse demanding conviction of black people and acquittal of white people. And the Supreme Court and other courts reverse convictions based on that, because jurors should not be intimidated or influenced by what goes on outside the courtroom. This judge did not do a good enough job. He just told the jurors not to watch the news. Well, today most people don’t get their information from the news. They get them from social media, they get them from friends and family. They get them even from non news shows on television. So I don’t think the judge did a good enough job in insulating the jury from outside pressures.

KEITH: You know, and this was such a public case from the get go. We’ve been watching this for almost a year. Now we you know, there aren’t many cases like this where you actually have a video of a murder happening, or the incident happening. I do have to ask you though, when the judge at the end, he thinks the jury and he said you know it will be a few weeks before he reaches a sentence on how many, you know, years that Chavez will spend in jail. I know that depending on it’s 40, 25 or 10. What does that look like and what is his defense lawyer doing right now to try to minimize that potential life in prison?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, it is potentially life in prison and the defense lawyers are preparing a sentencing memorandum which go back into his career. This is a first offense, he’s been generally law abiding, he did have some complaints against him, and they will come out in sentencing. And the judge has some hard decisions to make. But the judge will sentence to a very substantial sentence, which might be the equivalent of life imprisonment for a person the age of Chauvin. And then the appellate process will commence. And there are three levels of appeal, two in the Minnesota courts, and then one to the United States Supreme Court. And I’m sure that the lawyers preserve federal constitutional issues. And so ultimately, the United States Supreme Court may decide this case. Remember the case of Sam Shepard, that was very famous F. Lee Bailey did it, it became a television series. And in that case, the Supreme Court reversed the conviction based on outside pressures. And in other cases as well, convictions have been reversed not because of what happened inside the courtroom, but because what happened outside the courtroom seeped into the jury box. And that’s not acceptable under the rule of law.

KEITH: So before I let you go real quick, what is the judge using here to determine how long this sentence is because record shows that Chauvin has no previous convictions?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, unfortunately, he’s probably putting his finger up to the wind and seeing what sentence he should impose that wouldn’t result in all kinds of riots. The whole judicial system has been corrupted by identity politics and by the weaponization of the criminal justice system toward particular agendas. So I’m not confident this judge will impose the sentence he would normally impose if the worldwide watching. I suspect the sentence will be somewhat higher than what was generally imposed in similar cases.

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