Prosecutor who helped convict Chauvin tapped to be federal judge

A man on a podium speaks.
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell speaks in April 2021 on the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former officer found guilty of murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd. He was nominated Wednesday to be a federal judge.
Screengrab of MPR News video

Jerry Blackwell, one of the high-profile prosecutors who helped send ex-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin to prison for the murder of George Floyd, was nominated Wednesday to be a federal judge.

Blackwell has more than three decades of legal experience and was supported unanimously by a selection committee convened by Minnesota U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith.

In a statement, Klobuchar cited Blackwell’s extensive trial experience, including the prosecution of Chauvin, as reasons for the nomination.

Blackwell is a corporate attorney who was enlisted by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to join the prosecution team after the state took over the case against Chauvin. Blackwell gained fame as the attorney who offered the state’s opening statement and closing argument in the case that ultimately saw a jury convict Chauvin on murder and manslaughter charges.

Blackwell moved to Minnesota decades ago initially to work for Robins Kaplan, a major Minneapolis law firm, and in 2006 became a founding partner of the Blackwell Burke law firm. He also is a co-founder of the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers.

The Senate will have to confirm Blackwell to take over for Judge Susan Richard Nelson, who went on senior status at the end of last year.

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