Chauvin’s plea could be a positive for the other three. They had asked the court to separate their trials from Chauvin’s, arguing that his presence would hurt them before a jury, but that request was denied. Mike Brandt, a local defense attorney not connected to the case, said a trial without Chauvin could reduce some of the inflammatory evidence jurors would see.
Brandt has also said that if Chauvin pleads guilty, he can be compelled to testify – which could benefit the others if he says he was the veteran officer who made the decision to do what he did.
The information sent out Monday gives no indication that the other officers intend to plead guilty. Messages left for their attorneys were not immediately returned.
Mark Osler, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, said any potential prison time that Chauvin would face in the federal case would likely be served at the same time as his state sentence – but the federal term has the potential to be much longer, up to life in prison.
By claiming responsibility, Chauvin can reduce his federal sentence. Though rare, Osler said he could also arrange to serve his sentence in the federal system, which could benefit him since he has been in solitary confinement in Minnesota. Brandt added that Chauvin would still have notoriety in the federal system and might still need to be segregated.
“I’m guessing he actually negotiated something that would allow him to see the light of day before he leaves the earth,” Brandt said.