Judge Peter A. Cahill is a 14-year veteran of the bench in Hennepin County. He has previously worked as a public defender, private defense lawyer and prosecutor, rising to become chief deputy under Amy Klobuchar, now a U.S. senator, when she served as the county attorney.
He has so far won praise in Derek Chauvin’s trial. He kept jury selection on schedule despite obstacles like the city’s announcement of a $27 million settlement with George Floyd’s estate, which raised fears that the jury would be swayed, and an appellate court’s ruling on the charges against Mr. Chauvin. Over the prosecution’s objections, Judge Cahill ordered that the trial be televised, a first in Minnesota, because public access to the courtroom was limited by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a lengthy 2015 decision, Judge Cahill dismissed charges against the organizers of a large Black Lives Matter rally at the Mall of America, saying the demonstration had been peaceful. In 2019, he gave a prominent ice skating coach 24 years — near the maximum sentence — for child sexual abuse, saying the coach’s apologies “ring hollow” and criticizing him for portraying the abuse as an extramarital affair. In 2016, he sentenced a man who killed three people when he was 16 years old to 90 years in prison.
As a prosecutor, he argued against a State Supreme Court ruling that limited police officers’ ability to question and search motorists without a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.