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Who Is Judge Peter Cahill, Who Will Oversee Case Of Four Ex-MPD Officers Charged In George Floyd's Death?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- All eyes are on the court proceedings involving four former Minneapolis police officers, now charged in George Floyd's death. The killing sparked outrage around the world with cries for justice for George.

Judge Peter Cahill will oversee the case. But who is he? A former colleague told WCCO why he's the right judge for the job.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill was assigned to the case. Former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty appointed Cahill to the bench in 2007. Voters elected he stay there twice more.

"He's certainly qualified to be a judge based on all the experience he has," attorney Mike Colich said.

Former law partner Mike Colich called Cahill's background diverse. They met while Cahill was a law clerk in the mid-80s. Cahill has been a public defender and a criminal defense attorney.

"He was a great lawyer, very, very skilled. Great intuitive sense and how to deal with people and how to deal with the facts of a case. I know jurors liked him, I know judges liked him," Colich said.

Cahill went out on his own in the mid-90s before joining the Hennepin County Attorney's Office in 1997. That's where he stayed until being named a judge a decade later. Cahill was the Chief Deputy under then Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar.

Judge Cahill has presided over highly-publicized cases. Last November, Kenneth Lilly pleaded guilty to shooting a school bus driver while a student was on board. Cahill sentenced him to more than seven years in prison, on the higher end of the punishment range.

In late 2015, he dismissed charges against organizers of a large Black Lives Matter protest at Mall of America.  In Judge Cahill's lengthy decision he said, by management and security allowing it to happen in the first 30 minutes, was "a tacit decision to allow a brief demonstration."  And he noted protestors made attempts to disperse once ordered.

The trials in front of him, are for Derek Chauvin, charged with second-degree murder in the death of George Floyd, and aiding and abetting charges for Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane. Colich said Cahill is who you want presiding over the case.

"He's as honest and hardworking a person as you're ever going to find. He's going to give everyone in that courtroom a fair trial and he's going to treat all of them equally," Colich said.

Cahill's current term expires in January of 2021. He's running unopposed so his term will automatically renew for six years.

The trial is scheduled for March.


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