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Judge overseeing trial of officer charged in George Floyd's death has Oconomowoc roots

Posted at 6:45 PM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 19:45:08-05

OCONOMOWOC — The judge overseeing the trial of an officer charged with the death of George Floyd in Minnesota has Wisconsin roots.

Judge Peter Cahill graduated from Oconomowoc High School in 1977 before moving on to the University of Minnesota, where he would begin his career in law. He is currently the judge overseeing the trial of Derek Chauvin.

Although Cahill spent much of his life in Minnesota, many of his formative years were spent in Wisconsin.

"I did not know he was from here, or that he was overseeing it,” said Oconomowoc resident Michael Kielley.

Kielley can't imagine the weight of handling such a high-profile case.

"It seems to me that would be a tremendous honor, and a tremendous amount of pressure and frankly, I would not want to be under that situation,” he said.

The Oconomowoc native has built a reputation for being a very matter-of-fact judge known not to mince words.

Court records show he’s been very decisive in a number of high-profile cases in the Minnesota area.

In 2019, he sentenced a man to 7 years in prison for shooting a 78-year-old school bus driver. The driver survived the attack.

In the same year, he also sentenced a former ice-skating coach to 24 years in prison for the repeated sexual assault of a teenage student.

Jamal Andress, a social-justice reporter with Newsy, says while this will likely be the biggest case of his career, Cahill should have all the experience he’d need for such a trial.

“I think the one thing we do know about Judge Peter Cahill is that he has been in the courtroom long enough and handled enough high-profile cases to deal with the pressures that come along with a case like this that is really being watched by the world,” Andress said.

TMJ4 News reached out to the Oconomowoc Area School District. No one was available to recount Cahill’s time with the district.

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