Prosecutors are appealing a Hennepin County District Court decision to hold two separate trials in the death of George Floyd.
Earlier this month, Judge Peter Cahill split the trials of the four men into two separate trials due to COVID-19 concerns, with former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial beginning March 8.
Former officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng would still be tried together, beginning Aug. 23, the court ruled.
Prosecutors had sought to delay the trials until June due to COVID-19, but have consistently pushed for the trials to be held together, citing the cases' similarities and risk of harm to witnesses having to testify more than once.
After Cahill's January ruling, prosecutors on Jan. 21 requested the court rejoin the trials for all four men, but the Hennepin County District Court did not grant their request.
This prompted Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is prosecuting the cases, to take what the Star Tribune calls an unusual step – his office appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals to have it compel the lower court to rejoin the cases.
In the appeal, Ellison's office accused Judge Cahill of violating state law and "threatens serious harms to public health," adding that the decision to hold two separate trials is a "clear abuse of discretion," citing the Minnesota Judicial Council's order barring in-person criminal trials until March 15.