After working as a prosecutor, Jerry Blackwell was approved by the U.S. Senate to serve as the next federal judge in Minnesota. Blackwell was instrumental in the conviction of a former Minneapolis police officer for George Floyd’s murder.
Blackwell is a partner with the legal firm Blackwell Burke in Minneapolis. With his 35 years of expertise as a trial lawyer, he volunteered his services to the state in order to prosecute Derek Chauvin for the murder of Floyd in May of 2020. During the state’s closing arguments, he gave a forceful rebuttal that helped seal the case.
Blackwell said to the jury as he was leaving, “You were informed… that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big.” This was in response to Chauvin’s counsel suggesting that Floyd’s death might have been caused in part by an enlarged heart. Truth be told, George Floyd is no longer with us because Mr. Chauvin had a weak heart.
After a trial, Chauvin was found guilty of first-degree murder and manslaughter and given a sentence of 22 and a half years in jail. Subsequently, he entered a guilty plea to a federal charge of violating Floyd’s rights and received a concurrent 21-year term for that crime.
Blackwell also successfully advocated for the posthumous pardon of Max Mason, a Black man who had been convicted of raping a white lady in Duluth in 1920. A white mob lynched three Black males after hearing of the alleged rape.
Most of Blackwell’s career has been spent in private practice, but he will soon become the third Black justice on Minnesota’s federal court. After gaining experience at other top businesses, he joined Blackwell Burke as a founding partner in 2006.
Blackwell is “one of the most generally recognized and successful members of our legal community,” U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar told the Star Tribune on Wednesday. One may say, “This person has as much experience as it gets for the federal bench.”