In all jury trials, the general format is the same. First, there is jury selection and then opening statements where the Prosecution goes first, and the Defense follows. After opening statements, the Prosecution presents their side of the case. This is done by calling witnesses, taking their testimony, and introducing evidence. In the death of George Floyd case, also known as the Chauvin trial, the State is currently in the middle of presenting their side of the case and calling their witnesses. You might be wondering, “why are they calling witnesses who are saying similar things?”
Well, there are “rules of evidence” that require certain procedures for how a trial is run. One of these rules of evidence which all sides must follow is how to introduce evidence like videos, pictures, or physical objects, and then showing the evidence to the jury.
In the Chauvin trial, some of the most important evidence are the videos that many have likely already seen on social media. So why can’t the State (prosecution) just show the jury the video as a piece of evidence? The answer lies in the rules of evidence. In order to admit something in a trial such as a piece of evidence, the side presenting it needs to “lay foundation” for the piece of evidence being admitted. This means a witness needs to “authenticate” that the particular piece of evidence is accurate and that is shows the photo, video, etc. accurately. Foundation is typically laid through a witness. That is why, for example, the State called the Speedway worker to testify. She testified that she was working the day of the incident, went outside, and took a video on her cellphone. She answered a series of other detailed questions asked by the State’s attorney about the events leading up to the incident. At that point, essentially, the State was able to play the video and ask her, “is that the video you recorded?” When she answered, “yes” and that it was accurate, the State had laid proper foundation to introduce the video and show it to the jury.
Although this process may sound a bit tedious, this is what attorneys must do in every trial in order to introduce evidence. This is why the State is calling several witnesses to testify about the videos they took that day. The State wants to show the videos to the jury, and to do so, they need the right witnesses to “lay the proper foundation.”
As the trial proceeds, you will see this process used frequently.
If you want to watch the trial live, go onto CourtTV.com and click the red Stream Live button at the top.