This article is not about the merits of the Derek Chauvin prosecution. Not about guilt or innocence. Not about whether Chauvin set about that day last May to deliberately kill George Floyd—clearly he didn’t. Not about whether he bore racial hatred or animus toward Blacks. Nor whether he simply lapsed into the killing, oblivious to the life of a man whom he felt had dissed him as a police officer, that day or before. It’s about whether this jury, any jury, can silence their minds to the “what ifs?” After all, the Chauvin jurors know—don’t they?—what is almost certain to occur if they don’t convict on the most serious counts.

A jury empaneled will decide the case—ostensibly on the merits alone. Or will it really? That is, no matter how cautious the judge in his evidence rulings and instructions; no matter how careful the prosecutor in abstaining from introducing questionable evidence; no matter how scrupulous the jury in withstanding the media (or even influence by family watching the trial on TV who might encourage to convict). And it’s not about the still-jarring images of the oh-so-relaxed Chauvin casually sitting, his knee on the neck of George Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds, as life oozes from him. It’s not about the 27 times in that torture session that one can audibly hear Floyd crying out “I can’t breathe.”