Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin will be sentenced Friday following his convictions for 2nd Degree Murder, 2nd Degree Manslaughter, and 3rd Degree Manslaughter. Chauvin’s sentencing comes just a month after he was found guilty in a Hennepin County, Minnesota courtroom for George Floyd’s death.

Opposing Sentencing Requests

NBC News has reported that Jerry Blackwell, the prosecutor in the Chauvin case, has asked Judge Cahill for a sentence of 30 years, while Chauvin’s attorney asked for a sentence of probation. The two sentencing requests are clearly at odds with one another. It’ll be interesting to see which direction Judge Cahill leans when he hands down Chauvin’s sentence.

Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor, said of the case in a statement to NBC News:

“The defense request for probation is so far outside the guidelines and would be such a deviation from the way these cases are normally handled that I think it’s a zero percent chance that would be the outcome, regardless of who the judge was, frankly.”

I tend to agree.

During his career, Judge Cahill has acted as a prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge. He understands as well as anyone what both Floyd’s family and Chauvin are going through emotionally in the days leading up to the sentencing. Additionally, I believe that Judge Cahill is set up for perceived failure in this case, regardless of which way he leans for the sentencing. If he gives Chauvin probation as requested by the defense, then he’ll be accused of giving preferential treatment to Chauvin because of his former status as an officer. In that case, it’s not unlikely that Judge Cahill’s personal safety would be at risk. If, on the other hand, he hammers Chauvin and gives him 30-plus years he’ll be accused of bowing down to political pressure rather than sentencing the defendant based solely on the facts of the case and his previous criminal history.

George Floyd statue
A George Floyd statue by artist Chris Carnabuci was unveiled as part of the Juneteenth celebrations in New York City on June 19, 2021. (CNN)

Chauvin Had No Criminal History

Here’s one fact we know: Chauvin has no past criminal record. Regardless of his status as a law enforcement officer at the time of Floyd’s death, a defendant’s prior criminal history almost always comes into play during his or her sentencing. It isn’t rare for someone who has committed even a violent offense to receive a much lighter sentence if it was his or her first criminal offense. On the contrary, someone who is a repeat offender will routinely receive significantly higher sentences because of their past actions. And frankly, that’s how it should be. Time will tell whether Chauvin is allotted such a consideration.

Judge Cahill’s Previously Issued Sentences and the Fate of Chauvin

The second factor to consider is Judge Cahill’s sentences on previous similar cases he’s adjudicated. According to NBC News, Judge Cahill has sentenced six people convicted of 2nd Degree Murder during his tenure. Those sentences ranged in time from 12.5 to 40 years in prison.