Yanez Trial FAQs
Can your office appeal the verdict or re-charge the case?
We are unable to appeal or re-charge the case due to federal and state constitutional prohibitions against double jeopardy, i.e. being tried twice for the same offense.
How can the jurors have seen that video and not convicted the officer?
The standard in criminal cases is high -- proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition, the challenge of obtaining a conviction in these types of cases around the country (Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Tulsa, South Carolina) has proven to be very difficult. Ultimately this is a question that can only be answered by the jurors, one of whom discussed the deliberation process at length in this Minnesota Public Radio interview from June 23.
Was the interview Officer Yanez gave to the BCA presented to the jury in court?
There appears to be some confusion about Yanez’s BCA statement. It was presented in court, just not in the manner in which we had originally intended. We made a strategic decision to introduce it during Yanez’s cross-examination in order to impeach his testimony by having him listen and respond to questions as the audio was being played.
Under the rules of evidence, the BCA interview is a statement by the defendant, a party opponent. The rules of evidence clearly allow for the statement’s admission into evidence during cross-examination.
However, when we attempted to play the entire audio recording of the interview in court, the Defense objected and the Judge sustained their objection, advising us that we could read from the transcript but could not play all or any portion of the audio. We were still able to introduce his conflicting statements as evidence for impeachment purposes; the jurors just did not hear the audio recording.
Was it possible to charge any lesser crimes than those charged in this case?
As with any other case in our office, we reviewed the evidence and charged the highest provable offenses based on the facts of the case. It is contrary to the pursuit of justice for anyone who has watched that video and seen the evidence we presented in court to suggest that this case should have been charged as a lesser crime.
Does the prosecution pick the jury?
No. Here is how a jury pool is formed in Minnesota:
- Each year the Minnesota State Courts Administration obtains a list of residents, consisting of licensed drivers, state ID card holders, and registered voters.
- Residents are randomly selected by computer to report for jury duty during a given timeframe.
- When a trial is in need of a jury, a random group of those who have reported for jury duty that week are selected to report to a courtroom.
How were the jurors selected for this case?
To seat the jury for the Yanez trial, a list of 50 potential jurors from the jury pool was initially selected for review by the court. They were then asked by the court to fill out a questionnaire, comprised of questions about their beliefs and experiences that both the defense and prosecution believed were relevant to the case. Each side then got to review the questionnaires ahead of jury selection.
Beginning in order of selection, each juror was interviewed individually by the judge, defense and prosecution to ensure he or she could be fair and impartial in weighing the facts presented in court and arriving at a decision. During this process, potential jurors may be eliminated for cause, if the judge determines, for example, that they have already made up their mind as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant. After the judge eliminated several jury pool members for cause (due to personal/economic hardship or bias), 23 potential members were selected for final review.
Next, the defense was allowed to eliminate 5 potential jurors and the prosecution 3 for no stated reason. The remaining list of 15 people became the jury that decided this case: 12 jurors and 3 alternates, who sit through the trial in case one of the 12 jurors has an emergency arise and can’t continue to serve. In this case, all of the alternates were excused before the jury started deliberating because they were not needed.