Statement about Chauvin Trial from MSBA President Dyan Ebert

With the State v. Derek Chauvin trial beginning, the eyes of the world are on the Minnesota courts and our community. Questions will be raised about all aspects of the trials of those charged with killing George Floyd. As attorneys, we have a unique perspective on these proceedings and an important role in promoting public confidence in the justice system and support for the rule of law.

Defending the rule of law is a civic duty and the most important professional obligation of attorneys. The obligation is embedded in the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct, which provide that “a lawyer should further the public’s understanding of and confidence in the rule of law and the justice system because legal institutions in a constitutional democracy depend on popular participation and support to maintain their authority.” (Minn. R. Prof. Conduct, Preamble ¶6.)

As attorneys, we need to remain committed to defending the rule of law when we hear news reports of the trial of the officer accused of murdering George Floyd. With the significant role that the courts have in carrying out the administration of justice, it is not surprising that they are often the subject of criticism. We need to be strong in our support of the people working in that courtroom—the judge, the lawyers, the clerks, and the court reporter and bailiffs. We also need to encourage people in our various communities who raise questions about the trial process to be respectful and appreciate the work of the people in that courtroom. We need to uphold the rule of law that is playing out on this very visible, highly charged, stage. We also recognize that historically the justice system has not always treated everyone equally. We reaffirm our commitment to equal justice and increasing racial equity in our profession, the justice system and our community.

The Minnesota State Bar Association is committed to advocating for the profession and supporting equal justice for all Minnesotans under the law. To that end, we have formed a Fair Response Committee, which will be tasked with promoting public confidence in the administration of justice by fostering public understanding and appreciation of the judicial system. More information about that committee is on the MSBA website. We encourage members to also take an active role in helping educate those in our circles and beyond about the legal system and the role that the rule of law has in our society.

     -- Dyan Ebert
         2020-2021 MSBA President