The Minnesota Supreme Court denied former police officer Derek Chauvin’s request for a public defender to represent him as he appeals his murder conviction and sentencing for the 2020 killing of George Floyd.
Chauvin filed an appeal of the murder conviction in September in which he claimed he does not have enough money to pay for a lawyer. But the state’s high court concluded that Chauvin had not adequately demonstrated financial hardship, Chief Justice Lorie Gildea wrote in an order.
Chauvin’s affidavit stated he owes about $60,000 to the Internal Revenue Service and at least $37,000 to the state of Minnesota. Chauvin appeared in court on tax evasion charges in September of last year.
Chauvin wrote that he is using his “nominal prison wages” to pay off fees from his initial trial, and his only assets are two retirement accounts.
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association’s legal defense fund paid for Chauvin’s defense in the initial trial, which concluded in May. The police union was no longer obligated to cover Chauvin’s legal fees once he was convicted.
The Office of the Minnesota Appellate Public Defender (OMAPD) denied Chauvin’s request for a public defender, determining that he was ineligible, according to court documents.
The state Supreme Court upheld that decision after reviewing Chauvin’s assets.
“A defendant is financially unable to obtain counsel if ‘the defendant, through any combination of liquid assets and current income, would be unable to pay the reasonable costs charged by private counsel’ for defense of the matter,” Gildea wrote.
“Having reviewed Chauvin’s request, the information provided regarding his assets and debts, and the OMAPD’s determination, we conclude that Chauvin has not established that he is entitled to appointed representation at this time,” the judge added.
A jury convicted Chauvin on charges of third-degree murder, second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter in April. In June, a judge sentenced him to 22 and a half years at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Oak Park Heights.
The video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he shouted that he could not breathe sparked global outrage and resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Three other officers, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, were at the scene and also federally charged with violating Floyd’s rights. All four officers pleaded not guilty.