CNN senior legal analyst panned for questioning Chauvin defense strategy in closing argument: 'YOU HACK'

Laura Coates worked as a federal prosecutor in the Bush, Obama administrations

CNN senior legal analyst raised eyebrows Monday with her assessment of closing arguments by the defense team for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Defense attorney, Eric Nelson began his summation by defining "beyond a reasonable doubt," the legal standard of proof for conviction in a criminal trial.

CNN's Laura Coates, a former federal prosecutor, seemed unfamiliar with the concept, suggesting on Twitter that Nelson asked the jury to focus on whether there is reasonable doubt of his client's guilt because he is unable to prove Chauvin's innocence. 

"Defense begins the closing by defining reasonable doubt, not with why #DerekChauvin is innocent," she tweeted. "Think about that. #DerekChauvinTrial #GeorgeFloyd"

Critics from across the political spectrum were quick to pile on.

"Oh my god," Glenn Greenwald reacted to Coates' tweet.

"Oh my lord. This is CNN's "senior legal analyst," The Daily Wire's Matt Walsh responded. "@thelauracoates You understand that the entire premise of our legal system is that the defense is not tasked with proving innocence? I mean that's the most fundamental point to understand. And your job is to understand it. Yet here you are. Wow."

"@thelauracoates What an utter embarrassment you are. You are not a 'legal analyst.' Any lawyer - even the bad ones - know the burden is on the government to prove guilt, and the defendant has no burden to prove innocence. YOU HACK," an attorney who goes by the Twitter handle @beyondreasdoubt responded.

The same user noted that Coates describes herself as a former DOJ employee in her Twitter bio. 

"You know what's scary af? You have 'former DOJ' in your bio. How many innocent people did you put in jail?," she asked. 

"Someone doesn't like that even people you hate are entitled to a free and fair trial where lawyers are able to put forth their best case in the interest of their client and their view of the law! Pathetic that she was ever a former federal prosecutor with views like this," Newsbusters' Curtis Houk said. 

"CNN’s legal analyst clearly confused about the role "reasonable doubt" plays in criminal convictions. Think about that," public policy analyst Erielle Davidson wrote.

"In criminal law, the burden is on prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, not for defense to prove innocence. You are a CNN legal analyst. I have spent a total of 0 days in law school," The Daily Caller's Greg Price said

Pollster Frank Luntz called Coates' tweet "irresponsible," writing on Twitter that "Reasonable doubt is all what [sic] the defense needs to succeed at their job. This is an irresponsible tweet by a 'Senior Legal Analyst.'"

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro encouraged Coates to "reacquaint herself with the standard for criminal conviction."

"Wow," Charlie Kirk wrote. "The 'Senior Legal Analyst' at CNN believes explaining the legal burden of proof for conviction in a criminal murder trial—one with two different autopsy results showing two different possible causes of death—is a damning indictment of Chauvin's defense."

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The incident is not the first time a CNN legal analyst came under fire for a not-so-factual legal assessment. 

In February, CNN's Jennifer Rodgers was forced to walk back her on-air claim that lying is not protected by the First Amendment in response to the arguments of former President Donald Trump's lawyers prior to the Senate impeachment trial, which eventually resulted in a full acquittal.