‘Believe your eyes’: Elon Law scholar weighs in on Chauvin sentencing

Professor and Senior Scholar Steve Friedland was among three North Carolina experts who spoke with WFMY News 2 in the hours after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to prison for the murder of George Floyd.

Professor Steve Friedland

An Elon Law expert on criminal law was one of three North Carolina legal scholars who spoke with WFMY News 2 on June 25 for coverage of the sentencing of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Elon Law Professor and Senior Scholar Steve Friedland joined with Kami Chavis of Wake Forest University, and Theodore “Ted” Shaw of UNC Chapel Hill, for an extended report on the implications of Chauvin’s punishment for the murder of George Floyd.

Chauvin, 45, was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for the 2020 murder, which sparked a summer of national protests after it was caught on video. Chauvin is eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of his sentence.

“Prosecutors’ main theme was ‘believe your eyes. Look at the video,’” Friedland told the CBS affiliate in Greensboro. “This judge, given the aggravating factors, very well could have given a longer sentence.”

Friedland also said that he didn’t believe Chauvin speaking at his sentencing hearing made a difference in the length of the sentence.

“It’s the video that really counts, and this (Chauvin’s remarks) is coming afterward and late, and it’s also in his own interest,” Friedland said. “I don’t think we saw the kind of remorse that could have really made a little bit of difference (in the sentence).”

Friedland is a founding member of the law school faculty. In addition to law teaching, he has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and as an Assistant Director of the Office of Legal Education in the Department of Justice.

An accomplished scholar who has published articles in several renowned journals, Friedland’s books on Evidence Law, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Procedure and Law School Teaching have been published by the West Publishing Company, Aspen Press, Lexis Publishing Company and Carolina Academic Press.

Friedland was elected to the American Law Institute, served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Law School Admission Council, and is a current member of the Lexis Advisory Board. He has won numerous teaching awards at several law schools over three decades and was named one of the best law teachers in America by the Harvard University Press book, “What the Best Law Teachers Do.”