Someone who was with George Floyd the day he was killed pleaded the Fifth (source).

The Hennepin County Public Defender's Office filed the notice on behalf of Morries Hall, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of a vehicle with Floyd, who was in the driver's seat, when police approached Floyd for allegedly using a fake $20 bill at Cup Foods in south Minneapolis.

I understand that people, when accused, get public defenders, but Hall was only a witness in this trial.

If I was called to testify and had concerns about self-incrimination and couldn't afford a lawyer, would I have to reach out to the county? Or is one provided when you're called to testify?

Or perhaps the prosecution or defense was obliged to refer Hall to a public defender after speaking to him?

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    It is possible that the passenger was charged with a crime arising out the same incident that was not mentioned in this trial, and that the P.D.'s office was appointed in that capacity. This isn't the only possibility, although it is probably the most likely. – ohwilleke Apr 6 at 4:09
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    @ohwilleke It turns out that was the case – Azor Ahai -him- Apr 6 at 19:34

They ask for one

Everyone has the right to legal representation. If you qualify for legal aid, the government will provide it, if you don’t, you pay for it.

  • So when the MN BCA was investigating the murder, Hall would have asked for a lawyer while being questioned, who would have continued representing him during the trial? (I guess in this case, she is his lawyer for a different charge, but if that hadn't happened) – Azor Ahai -him- Apr 7 at 17:39

In this case the individual was already in jail and represented by counsel, ostensibly for that charge.


You don't automatically get a lawyer for being a witness and you can't demand a free one from the state. The state provides public defenders for people who can't hire their own, but only to people who are actually defending themselves. They do not provide public attorneys for "preventive" purposes so that you can avoid getting charged in the first place. There is nothing stopping you from finding such a lawyer on your own, you might even find one who will do it pro bono, but it would be on your own initiative and not guaranteed by the state.

If you are in a situation where you are a witness in trial A and at the same time there is a significant risk that you will end up incriminating yourself, it is likely that you are already part of a separate trial B where you are the one being charged. You would have had the opportunity to retain a defense lawyer when B started. That same lawyer could advise on being a witness to A as well. Even though it's a separate trial, it obviously impacts his defense of B.

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