I’ve presented testimony from medical examiners at murder trials, and I know firsthand that it can be fraught. Medical examiners often use dense, technical medical jargon to state their findings, so juries sometimes have difficulty following along; it’s the prosecutor’s job to ensure that the examiner speaks in plain English, to the extent possible, to explain his or her conclusions. And testimony from medical examiners, naturally, can be gruesome. Juries tend to recoil at the vivid descriptions of death and its aftermath.
Now, your questions:
Anna (Missouri): Can the other police officers who were on the scene and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter choose to have a bench trial rather than a jury trial? Is there a possibility they’ll be denied that right?
The judge must first inform the defendant of his right to a jury trial, and must ensure that the defendant understands that he is voluntarily giving up that right. If the defendant still wishes to proceed, then the judge has the power either to grant or deny the defendant’s request to waive a jury trial. Such requests are uncommon, but defendants do occasionally seek to be tried by a judge if they fear that a jury might be inclined or to convict based on the facts of the case.
Nebiyu (Massachusetts): How long will Derek Chauvin’s sentence be, if he is convicted?