Court denies Daily Mail access to Chauvin trial for publishing ‘stolen’ bodycam footage

Under the order, the Daily Mail will be denied access to all trial exhibits, the media center, and “all media updates related to the trial.” 

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and his attorney, Eric Nelson, in the courtroom. (YouTube screenshot)

A judge has denied the Daily Mail’s request for media credentials to cover the trial of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin because the outlet published “stolen” body-camera footage in violation of a court order.

For one day only, members of the public and the press were allowed to view footage recorded by body cameras worn by two officers involved in the arrest of George Floyd. Viewers were allowed to take notes, but were not allowed to “record or re-transmit any portion of the video.”

The Daily Mail published recordings of the videos about two weeks after the July 15 public viewing.

“It has not been proven to the Court whether the Daily Mail did or did not play a role in the theft of the footage. It is clear, however, that the Daily Mail was the first media outlet to publish the stolen footage,” Hennepin County Chief Judge Toddrick Barnette said in his Wednesday order.

Under the order, the Daily Mail will be denied access to all trial exhibits, the media center, and “all media updates related to the trial.”

“The Court understands the important role that media plays in our society generally and the criminal justice system specifically. Nevertheless, in situations where a Court Order has been violated and a media outlet knowingly exploits the violation by publishing stolen records of court exhibits, the Court is required to pursue an equitable consequence,” said Barnette.

The decision to deny the Daily Mail access was made “several months” ago, but was formalized Wednesday “at the request of counsel for the Daily Mail to allow them to seek full legal review of the decision,” according to Barnette.

Nothing in the order prohibits the Daily Mail from “obtaining the trial exhibits from other media outlets.”

“This Court assumes that the Daily Mail paid for the stolen video footage,” Barnette continued. “The Court is therefore confident that the Daily Mail can pay to obtain the trial exhibits associated with this case. This is not a hardship for the Daily Mail, it is merely an inconvenience.”

Barnette said the court did not “make this decision lightly,” but had no other “equitable and appropriate response to the Daily Mail’s purchase and publication of the stolen footage.”

Jury selection in Chauvin’s trial was completed this week and opening arguments are scheduled to begin Monday.