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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The tough task of selecting a jury for former MPD officer Derek Chauvin's trial for the killing of George Floyd is set to begin Monday.

The state of play: "This case may be the most highly publicized criminal trial in a long time. ... That means that it's harder to find people who really have an open mind," Richard Frase, University of Minnesota Law School professor of criminal law, told Axios.

  • COVID-19 precautions, security measures and deeply-held feelings about race and policing "heighten" an already difficult process, added Roy Futterman, a clinical psychologist and trial consultant who specializes in jury selection.
  • Plus, there's the pressure that the outcome could spark more civil unrest in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. "That's a lot to place on their shoulders," Futterman said.

Another catch: Being unfamiliar with the facts of a case is usually seen as a plus. In this situation, it could be seen as disqualifying.

  • Those who claim to be in the dark "don't demonstrate the level of citizenship required for a case this serious," defense attorney A.L. Brown told The Star Tribune.

How it works: Attorneys will question prospective jurors to try to determine whether they can be fair-minded. Candidates already filled out a lengthy questionnaire probing everything from their media habits to views on police and Black Lives Matter.

  • Jurors can be dismissed "for cause," based on something they said or did that suggests an inability to render fair judgment. Each side has a limited number of "peremptory challenges," which can be used for pretty much any reason except race.

Between the lines: Juror questions can also preview both sides' eventual arguments.

  • Lawyers will often "ask questions just as much to raise an issue and prepare anyone who ends up on the jury for the issue that they want to have front of mind," Frase said.

What's next: Judge Peter Cahill has set aside three weeks — an unusually long window — to find 12 jurors and 4 alternates before opening statements begin March 29.

Of note: While the trial will be broadcast, jurors will remain off camera to protect their identities.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Go deeper

Chauvin trial leaves cities, activists across America on edge

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The impact of the Derek Chauvin trial is reverberating far beyond the walls of the downtown Minneapolis courtroom.

The state of play: With the trial set to enter its third week, activists across America are watching the proceedings unfold with heavy skepticism that what they perceive as justice will be served.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The dispiriting housing boom

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's a discouraging scene: Bidding wars, soaring prices, and fears that homeownership is becoming out of reach for millions of Americans. We're in a housing frenzy, driven by a massive shortage of inventory — and no one seems to be happy about it.

Why it matters: Not all bubbles burst. Real estate, in particular, tends to rise in value much more easily than it falls. Besides, says National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun, this "is not a bubble. It is simply lack of supply."

Updated 7 hours ago - World

China's COVID vaccines have low efficacy rates, official says

China Centers for Disease Control director Gao Fu at a March event in Beijing, China. Photo: Han Haidan/China News Service via Getty Images

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's director said Saturday authorities are considering mixing COVID-19 vaccines because the country's domestically made doses "don't have very high protection rates," per AP.

Why it matters: The remarks by the Gao Fu at a news conference in the southwestern city of Chengdumark mark the first time a Chinese health official has spoken publicly about the low efficacy of vaccines made in China.

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