Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank filed a notice of appeal late Thursday afternoon asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to ensure that the four former Minneapolis police officers accused in the killing of George Floyd be tried together, reports the Courthouse News Service. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill issued the order to separate Chauvin’s trial from the other three defendants on January 11 in response to a motion by the state to push the trial of all four officers to June. Prosecutors argued that the release of Covid-19 vaccines would make a later trial safer, particularly in light of the possibility of protests and other mass gatherings. Cahill severed Thao, Lane and Kueng’s trial from Chauvin’s and moved it to Aug. 23. Chauvin’s trial for second-degree murder is still scheduled to begin March 8. Cahill also denied a motion to reconsider the severance in an order issued on Jan. 21.
Frank argued that these decisions were not consistent with civil-procedure rules. “The District Court’s decision to proceed to trial on March 8 and to proceed with two separate trials creates a serious public health risk,” Frank wrote in appeal documents. “Regardless of how this Court elects to exercise jurisdiction, relief is warranted here because the District Court’s decision violates the law and threatens serious harms to public health.”