Biden nominates Minnesota prosecutor in Derek Chauvin case for federal judgeship

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The White House announced Wednesday that President Biden is nominating Derek Chauvin prosecutor Jerry Blackwell to be a federal district court judge for the District of Minnesota.

Blackwell was part of the legal team that successfully secured a guilty verdict against Chauvin for the 2020 murder of George Floyd. He is one of seven new judicial picks the president named, and the White House specifically mentioned diversity in its press release.

“The President is announcing seven new federal judicial nominees, all of whom are extraordinarily qualified, experienced, and devoted to the rule of law and our Constitution. These choices also continue to fulfill the President’s promise to ensure that the nation’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country — both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds,” the White House said.

Since 2006 Blackwell, who earned his bachelor’s and law degrees at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has worked at the law firm Blackwell Burke, of which he is a founding partner. Prior to that, he was a partner at law firms including Robins Kaplan, Nilan Johnson Lewis, and Blackwell Igbanugo.

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In this image from video, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell questions Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist, now retired, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Friday, April 9, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

In this image from video, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell questions Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist, now retired, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Friday, April 9, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

Blackwell delivered a powerful closing argument and rebuttal at Chauvin’s criminal trial. After Chauvin’s attorney told they jury that an enlarged heart could have contributed to Floyd’s death, Blackwell responded with these final words: “You were told … that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big. … The truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.”

Chauvin was the first of the four Minnesota police officers charged in connection with Floyd’s death to stand trial. A jury convicted him in April 2021 and Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison.

Chauvin is now appealing the conviction and seeking a new trial.

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In December Chauvin pleaded guilty in a related federal civil rights and in May a judge accepted an agreement for him to be sentenced to 20 to 25 years in that case, to be served concurrently with the state sentence.

 The Associated Press contributed to this report.