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US The judge in the Derek Chauvin case is orchestrating one of the nation’s most widely watched murder trials. Meet Peter Cahill.

04:10  13 april  2021
04:10  13 april  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

EXPLAINER: Legion of Chauvin prosecutors, each with own role

  EXPLAINER: Legion of Chauvin prosecutors, each with own role Viewers watching the trial of a former Minneapolis officer charged with murder in George Floyd 's death may be struck by the array of prosecutors taking turns presenting their case. The choice of who does what is no accident. While Derek Chauvin ’s attorney, Eric Nelson, works alone, the prosecution is being handled by two assistant attorneys general, Matthew Frank and Erin Eldridge, and two outside lawyers, Jerry Blackwell and Steve Schleicher. Ten more are working behind the scenes, many for free.Experts agree the roles played by prosecutors are based on the skill sets each brings, but appearances matter, too.

The judge in the Derek Chauvin case is orchestrating one of the nation ’ s most widely watched murder trials . Meet Peter Cahill . That is exactly where Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill finds himself in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin , entering its sixth week and bringing daily controversy and scrutiny to every step taken in the courtroom. For the first time in Minnesota state court history, cameras are livestreaming the historic case , which many see as putting the nation ' s police practices on trial in the killing of George Floyd.

Derek Chauvin Trial News Updates: Charges, Jury Selection and More . Mr. Chauvin , a former Minneapolis police officer, faces charges of manslaughter, second-degree murder and third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd. In this image from video, defendant and former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin , right, listens as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over pretrial motions before jury selection Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS — It's no small job to preside over the most emotionally charged criminal trial in the country. There are throngs of lawyers, reporters, tearful witnesses, social media fanfare, complex legal questions, and all the while the possibility that an appeals court will second-guess you.

a person standing in front of a microphone: In this image from video, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discusses motions before the court Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. © Associated Press In this image from video, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discusses motions before the court Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn.

That is exactly where Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill finds himself in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, entering its sixth week and bringing daily controversy and scrutiny to every step taken in the courtroom.

Police chief: Fired cop broke policy in pinning Floyd

  Police chief: Fired cop broke policy in pinning Floyd MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minneapolis police chief who called George Floyd's death “murder” soon after it happened testified that Officer Derek Chauvin had clearly violated department policy when he pinned Floyd's neck beneath his knee for more than 9 minutes. Continuing to kneel on Floyd's neck once he was handcuffed behind his back and lying on his stomach was “in no way, shape or form” part of department policy or training, "and it is certainlyContinuing to kneel on Floyd's neck once he was handcuffed behind his back and lying on his stomach was “in no way, shape or form” part of department policy or training, "and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values,” Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Monday on D

Judge Peter Cahill said he will not sequester the jury until next Monday, when he anticipates closing arguments will begin. He also denied a defense request to question jurors about what they might have seen about unrest following Sunday’ s police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center. In the wake of the shooting, hundreds of protesters broke into about 20 businesses at a shopping center, jumped on police cars and hurled rocks and other objects at police in Brooklyn Center. Officers in riot gear fired gas and flash-bang grenades. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher argued against

The judge in Derek Chauvin ’ s murder trial decided Monday not to sequester the jury in the case following protests in Minnesota over the fatal police shooting of a Black man. Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill denied a motion from the defense Monday morning to sequester the jury following civil unrest after Daunte Wright, 20, was shot and killed by police Cardiologist Jonathan Rich took the stand Monday as the first witness in the third week of testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial . Rich works at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago and is an associate professor at Northwestern University.

For the first time in Minnesota state court history, cameras are livestreaming the historic case, which many see as putting the nation's police practices on trial in the killing of George Floyd. The decision to allow livestreaming was made by Cahill due to immense global interest and limited courthouse space.

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While the 62-year-old former prosecutor and public defender has opened up the courtroom in one sense, he has been very strict in another. With such intense interest and so many eyes watching, Cahill, whose colleagues describe as a taskmaster noted for running tight courtrooms, has ruled with a stern hand. He publicly admonished a combative witness, reprimanded the press, and scolded a witness' public relations representative for snapping a quick photo in the barricaded courthouse.

Expert: Lack of oxygen killed George Floyd, not drugs

  Expert: Lack of oxygen killed George Floyd, not drugs MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — George Floyd died of a lack of oxygen from the way he was held down by police, a retired forensic pathologist testified Friday at former Officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial. The testimony of Lindsey Thomas, who retired in 2017 from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office in Minneapolis, bolstered the findings of other experts on Thursday who rejected the defense theory that Floyd’s drug use and underlying health problems killed him.

Judge Peter Cahill said he will not sequester the jurors until next Monday, when he anticipates closing arguments will begin. He also denied a defense request to question jurors about what, if anything, they may have seen about unrest following Sunday’ s police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Prosecutor Steve Schleicher argued against sequestering the jury in the Floyd case , saying: "I don’t think that would be an effective remedy." The judge in the Floyd case had previously asked jurors to avoid news during the trial . In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, discusses motions before

The trial of Derek Chauvin , the former police officer charged with killing George Floyd in Minneapolis, entered a new phase on Thursday with the testimony of paramedics who responded to the scene, making it the first time that jurors heard about Mr. Floyd’ s medical condition in the immediate aftermath of the arrest. Day 4 of the trial of Derek Chauvin drew protesters outside the Hennepin County courthouse and around the city of Minneapolis on Thursday. Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times.

a person posing for the camera: Judge Peter A. Cahill © Minnesota Judicial Branch Judge Peter A. Cahill

"He has had a few curveballs thrown at him throughout this thing," says Michael Brandt, a longtime Twin Cities criminal defense attorney who has appeared before Cahill many times. "He handled that with some grace and aplomb."

Cahill has set strict deadlines and stuck to his "relatively rigid timeline," Brant said. A "taskmaster kind of philosophy has permeated this, but not in an aggressive, overbearing way — more in way of, we’re going to keep these trains on time."

But few things go according to plan in a major trial. Days before the start of jury selection, an appeals court ruled that Cahill should not have thrown out a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin last fall. Then, at the end of that week, the city approved a historic settlement for the Floyd family, which threatened to derail jury selection.

"Judge Cahill definitely has control of that courtroom," said Hennepin County Chief Judge Toddrick Barnette, who picked Cahill to preside over Chauvin's trial and the separate trial of the three other officers charged in Floyd's death.

Prosecution case nears end in ex-cop's trial in Floyd death

  Prosecution case nears end in ex-cop's trial in Floyd death MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd 's death enters its third week Monday, with the state nearing the end of a case built on searing witness accounts, official rejections of the neck restraint and expert testimony attributing Floyd's death to a lack of oxygen. Derek Chauvin, 45, who is white, is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s May 25 death. Police were called to a neighborhood market where Floyd, who was Black, was accused of trying to pass a counterfeit bill.

Judge Peter Cahill upheld a more serious charge of second-degree murder as well as a second-degree manslaughter charge against Mr. Chauvin , 44, who was released on million bail this month. Mr. Chauvin ’ s actions in pinning down Mr. Floyd, as captured in videos of the episode, most likely meet that standard, said Richard Frase, a criminal law professor at the University of Minnesota. “In order to hold Chauvin liable for second-degree felony murder , the prosecution has to prove that death occurred in the course of committing a felony assault,” Professor Frase said in an interview.

Emotional first day at Derek Chauvin murder trial includes blunt witness testimony, new video footage. The prosecution told the jury on March 29 that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin used excessive force that led to the death of George Floyd. (The Washington Post). The 14 jurors seated Monday will be allowed to retain some semblance of their normal life throughout what is expected to be a four-week trial . The court has taken several measures to ensure the jurors’ safety and security during the high-profile case , including limiting the number of jurors in the courtroom to 14, which includes

Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter; the other officers are charged with aiding and abetting those crimes.

'They need to be watched': How livestreaming the Derek Chauvin trial lets people of color monitor the justice system

A roadblock on the first day of jury selection

Jury selection was supposed to begin March 8. Artists and activists gathered outside the fortified courthouse as attorneys huddled inside, separated by plexiglass to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Instead, the day started with a confusing debate over whether jury selection could continue before the court knew for sure what charges Chauvin would face.

The issue arose days before when the Minnesota Court of Appeals said Cahill should not have thrown out a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin last fall.

Eric Nelson, the lead defense lawyer, said he planned to ask the state Supreme Court to review whether Chauvin could face the additional murder charge. Prosecutors with the Minnesota Attorney General's office scrambled to ask the appeals court to halt jury selection while the appeal was underway.

EXPLAINER: Prosecution explores Floyd's 'spark of life'

  EXPLAINER: Prosecution explores Floyd's 'spark of life' MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors trying a white former Minneapolis police officer in George Floyd’s death put one of Floyd’s brothers on the witness stand Monday in a further effort to humanize him for the jury and counter the defense narrative that Floyd was at least partially responsible for his own death due to his use of illegal drugs. Philonise Floyd, who has frequently occupied the Floyd family's sole seat in the socially distanced courtroom, was allowed to testify under a legal doctrine called “spark of life.

If the trial were to move forward and Chauvin were to be convicted of third-degree murder, it could cause problems for the state on appeal. If the appeals court were to rule that Cahill shouldn't have proceeded with jury selection, the conviction could be thrown out and Chauvin could not be tried again for the same offense under the constitutional protection against being tried for the same crime twice.

Cahill called a recess Monday morning to let attorneys file an appeal, but with no word from the appeals court by that afternoon, he sent potential jurors home and made it clear he wasn't going to put the trial on hold while they waited for the appeals court.

“Unless the Court of Appeals tells me otherwise, we’re going to keep going,” he said.

The day ended without a single juror stepping foot into the courtroom.

Jury selection proceeded the next day. On Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected the defense's appeal. On Thursday, Cahill opened proceedings by hearing arguments on reinstating the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin. He ultimately granted prosecutors' request to reinstate it.

Mary Moriarty, former chief public defender of Hennepin County who has appeared before Cahill multiple times, noted that he "didn't take the easy way out by just reinstating the charge" right away. Instead, he gave the lawyers time to appeal.

EXPLAINER: Why is 'excited delirium' cited at Chauvin trial?

  EXPLAINER: Why is 'excited delirium' cited at Chauvin trial? MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The attorney for the former Minneapolis police officer on trial in George Floyd ’s death revisited the disputed concept of excited delirium Tuesday in an effort to show that the force Derek Chauvin used was objectively reasonable given Floyd's resistance. Chauvin, 45, who is white, is charged with murder and manslaughter. Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was arrested outside a neighborhood market on May 25, accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. A panicky-sounding Floyd struggled and claimed to be claustrophobic as police tried to put him in a squad car.

"He did that probably because he wants to avoid any potential appeal issue," she said.

"The last thing a judge wants is to have a case reversed on appeal because that means not only did they make a mistake, but the standard on appeal usually means the judge has abused their discretion in some way," she said. "He's made a good record, and he’s also allowed the lawyers to make a good record."

Defense argued civil settlement tainted jury pool

The day after settling the issue of the additional charge, another bombshell: After Cahill called a recess for lunch, news broke that the city had settled the Floyd family's wrongful death lawsuit for $27 million.

During a press conference with Mayor Jacob Frey and city council leaders, family attorney Ben Crump hailed the agreement as the largest pretrial settlement in a wrongful death case ever.

Cahill, who was at that point a friendly face for nervous potential jurors, expressed frustration more than once after the announcement.

The civil case is a separate legal matter, but when court reconvened Monday morning, Nelson argued the announcement had tainted the jury pool. Nelson asked Cahill to delay the trial, move it to a new location and sequester all jurors for the duration.

a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: In this image taken from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson questions witness Dr. Martin Tobin as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides, Thursday, April 8, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. © Associated Press In this image taken from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson questions witness Dr. Martin Tobin as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides, Thursday, April 8, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd.

Cahill had ruled against a similar request months before, but he said he would consider it. He ordered the seven jurors that had been selected already to be questioned about their exposure to the news. He called the timing unfortunate, but said he didn't suspect any "evil intent in the timing," which he said probably stems from the city's desire to limit its liability.

EXPLAINER: How is 'reasonableness' key to Chauvin's defense?

  EXPLAINER: How is 'reasonableness' key to Chauvin's defense? CHICAGO (AP) — Attorneys and witnesses have used the words “reasonable” or “unreasonable” often at the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder and manslaughter in George Floyd's death. It's no coincidence. The concept of reasonableness has been crucial at trials of officers ever since the landmark Graham v. Connor ruling 32 years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court. Here is a look at the issue and the key role it's likely toIt's no coincidence. The concept of reasonableness has been crucial at trials of officers ever since the landmark Graham v. Connor ruling 32 years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I wish city officials would stop talking about this case so much," Cahill said at one point.

The next day, no new jurors were selected.

That Wednesday, Cahill brought back all the jurors who had been selected for questioning. He appeared frustrated when two jurors said the settlement had influenced them. He dismissed both from serving.

Stress of the trial shows

Cahill's temper has flared, but almost never in front of the jury.

"This is an extremely stressful trial, as any murder trial is," Moriarty said. "The jury hasn’t seen any of that, so I think he’s done an excellent job there."

During the second week of jury selection, Cahill got visibly angry and reprimanded the press for reporting on lawyer's notes on a table and describing security throughout the courthouse. He threatened to kick out the media and shut down the media center across the street if the media didn't act responsibly.

As Nelson's cross-examination of Minneapolis firefighter Genevieve Hansen got heated in the first week of testimony, Cahill sent the jury out of the room. He admonished Hansen to answer the questions.

"Do not argue with the court," he told her. "I will determine when your answers are finished."

a person sitting on a table: In this image from video, Minneapolis Firefighter Genevieve Hansen wipes her eyes as she testifies Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minnesota. © Court TV via AP In this image from video, Minneapolis Firefighter Genevieve Hansen wipes her eyes as she testifies Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Brandt said Cahill's "buttons got pushed," but he was able to assert himself without compromising the witness in front of jurors.

Right after admonishing Hansen, Cahill called a public-relations representative for Darnella Fraizer, who had testified about the video she recorded of Floyd's death. The woman had taken a photo of the 18-year-old with Attorney General Keith Ellison.

Derek Chauvin led away in handcuffs after guilty verdict in Minneapolis courtroom

  Derek Chauvin led away in handcuffs after guilty verdict in Minneapolis courtroom Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was handcuffed and taken into custody after a jury found him guilty of murdering George Floyd.Images of Chauvin leaving the courtroom in handcuffs spread quickly on social media.

As Cahill held up her cell phone, he said he would chalk it up to  being ignorant of the rules against taking photos inside a courthouse. He instructed her to delete the photo.

Past experience and why he got the job

Cahill started his career as a public defender, then moved to private practice. In 1997 he joined the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, spending 10 years there and eventually serving as the chief deputy county attorney.

He was appointed to the bench in 2007 by former Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty and has been reelected to his position twice. His current term expires in January 2027. After his reelection in 2014, he told his local newspaper in Plymouth, where he lived for at least 25 years with his wife and four children, that his favorite part of being a judge is presiding over jury trials.

During his time as chief judge, Cahill presided over one of Minnesota's problem-solving courts, which aims to prevent women on probation for prostitution charges from reoffending.

Barnette said when he was selecting a judge for the case, he looked for someone who could make legal decisions under local, national and international pressure. "We needed a person that this moment wasn’t too big for," he said.

Last year, Cahill sentenced figure skating coach Thomas Incantalupo to 24 years in prison for sexually abusing one of his figure skaters. In 2019, Cahill sentenced Kenneth Lilly to seven years in prison after Lilly pleaded guilty to shooting a school bus driver while a student was on board.

In 2015, Cahill issued a 137-page decision after dismissing charges against organizers of a large Black Lives Matter protest at Mall of America.

Andrew Gordon, an attorney who appeared before Cahill during that case, said Cahill is a "big fan of courtroom efficiency" who marshalled the BLM case well and is likely doing the same thing in the Chauvin trial.

"Cahill is used to the limelight. He has handled complex matters before," he said. "He is up for the challenge."

Contributing: Tami Abdollah, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

Follow N'dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The judge in the Derek Chauvin case is orchestrating one of the nation’s most widely watched murder trials. Meet Peter Cahill.

Derek Chauvin led away in handcuffs after guilty verdict in Minneapolis courtroom .
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was handcuffed and taken into custody after a jury found him guilty of murdering George Floyd.Images of Chauvin leaving the courtroom in handcuffs spread quickly on social media.

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