When Attorney General Keith Ellison called to ask for his help, Jerry W. Blackwell knew the only possible answer was yes. This was why he became a lawyer. This was where he was supposed to be.
“This, to me, was a moral moment. It was one of those moments where everything within you, every fiber just so resonated that this is a time to stand up, to be counted, to do what you can for the cause of good and right,” said Blackwell.
Shortly after that call, Blackwell joined the prosecution team pro bono. Along with Blackwell, firm attorneys Mary S. Young, Corey L. Gordon and G. Tony Atwal, and paralegal Desweon Hinds, began working on all aspects of trial preparation. The firm also helped secure the ruling from the Minnesota Court of Appeals, resulting in third-degree murder being added to the charges against former Officer Derek Chauvin.
Blackwell, who served as a Special Assistant Attorney General in the case, delivered the opening statement and the rebuttal argument in closing. He examined numerous fact witnesses, including the teen who filmed the longest and clearest bystander video of the death of George Floyd. Proof of medical causation was vigorously disputed by the defense, and an element of each of the three crimes charged. The firm applied its expertise – honed from years of experience trying complex civil cases – to prepare the medical causation case for trial. Mr. Blackwell presented the State’s medical expert witnesses and the Hennepin County Medical Examiner and cross-examined the only medical expert called by the defense, Dr. David Fowler. The manner that this case was presented to the jury, including the testimony by numerous scientific and medical experts, was a departure from how criminal cases have been historically prosecuted.
Blackwell Burke is grateful to the jurors for their service and for the opportunity to have served as counsel in this case. “This conviction shows that Mr. Floyd was somebody and that his life mattered,” said Blackwell. “I am thankful to Attorney General Ellison for his leadership and for allowing my firm to assist his office in this matter.”
You can watch Blackwell share more about this “moral moment” on the Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell here.
About Jerry W. Blackwell
Jerry W. Blackwell serves as national and trial counsel for several major corporations and has litigated in federal and state courts in 47 states and internationally. He is an experienced trial lawyer with nationwide experience defending class actions, toxic tort, commercial disputes, products liability, and other high stakes complex cases. Mr. Blackwell has numerous winning jury verdicts and favorable settlements to his credit. He is a frequent presenter on winning trial strategies and how to communicate complicated legal, scientific, and business issues to jurors.
About Blackwell Burke P.A.
Blackwell Burke P.A. is a certified minority-owned trial firm that represents corporate clients in high-stakes class actions, mass torts, MDLs and commercial litigation, both at trial and on appeal. The firm has been repeatedly recognized as one of the top litigation defense firms in the country by BTI, Chambers, Best Lawyers and others. Benchmark Litigation has named Blackwell Burke Minnesota Firm of the Year for the past five consecutive years.