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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.

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Go deeper

9 hours ago - World

Over 170 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem

An injured man is carried away as Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

At least 178 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem, Reuters reported late Friday.

The big picture: The clashes come amid growing anger over the threatened eviction of Palestinians from their homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem. Tensions have also escalated in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low — Majority back vaccine proof requirements for travel, schools and work — The race to avoid a possible "monster" COVID variant.
  2. Politics: Oklahoma secures $2.6 million refund for hydroxychloroquine purchase — Why Biden's latest vaccine goal is his hardest yet.
  3. Vaccines: Pfizer begins application for full FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccine — Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants.
  4. Economy: U.S. adds just 266,000 jobs in April, far below expectations — Americans' return to the skies could benefit smaller airlines.
  5. World: WHO authorizes China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use — Mixed response in Europe to Biden's vaccine patents bombshell.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Ohio GOP censures Rep. Anthony Gonzalez over Trump impeachment vote

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Ohio Republican Party on Friday censured Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) and called for him to resign for voting to impeach former President Trump in January, Reuters reports.

The big picture: Gonzalez is the latest Republican lawmaker to be punished for voting to impeach the former president on a charge of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.

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