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Jerry Blackwell
Jerry Blackwell

President nominates Jerry Blackwell to federal bench

President Joe Biden on Wednesday nominated one of the prosecutors who helped convict a former Minneapolis police officer of murder in the killing of George Floyd to be a federal judge in Minnesota.

Jerry Blackwell is a Minneapolis attorney and a founding partner of the law firm Blackwell Burke. He worked pro bono as he helped prosecute Derek Chauvin for the May 2020 killing of Floyd, delivering a powerful rebuttal during the state’s closing arguments.

After Chauvin’s attorney told jurors that an enlarged heart may have contributed to Floyd’s death, Blackwell left jurors 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 convicted of murder and manslaughter and sentenced to 22½ years in prison. He later pleaded guilty to a federal count of violating Floyd’s rights and is awaiting sentencing for that.

In 2020, Blackwell also won a posthumous pardon for Max Mason, a Black man who was convicted of raping a white Duluth woman in 1920. The alleged rape led a white mob to lynch three other Black men.

Blackwell has spent most of his career in private practice. After working at other prestigious firms, he became a founding partner in his current one, Blackwell Burke, in 2006.

Blackwell was among seven people Biden nominated Wednesday for positions on federal appellate or district courts. He didn’t immediately reply to a message seeking comment left Wednesday at his office.


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