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Law professors file motion to block 'code of silence' judgment erasure

Verdict in police bar beating could aid clients in other police misconduct cases

David Heinzmann
December 6, 2012

Two law professors who focus on police accountability have filed a motion opposing Mayor Rahm Emanuel's move to erase a federal jury's recent finding that a "code of silence" exists in the Chicago Police Department as part of the trial over the videotaped beating of a female bartender by an off-duty officer.

The professors from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University law schools filed the motion late Tuesday asking permission to submit written arguments "addressing the public's interest in ensuring that the city not be permitted to 'buy its way out of this judgment.'"

Lawyer's for Emanuel's administration filed a joint motion with the victim in the case Monday, asking U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve to set aside the jury's Nov. 13 verdict in the case. The victim of the bar beating, Karolina Obrycka, would be paid the $850,000 award she won in the trial, and the city has acknowledged that removing the judgment that a code of silence exists would help them defend against other police misconduct lawsuits.

The law professors, Craig Futterman of the U. of C. and Locke Bowman of Northwestern, both have brought numerous misconduct cases against the Police Department during their careers. Futterman currently represents clients in a suit related to the department's defunct Special Operations Section and has said the code of silence judgment could aid his case.

A status hearing on the motion to vacate the judgment has been set for Friday morning before St. Eve. It was originally scheduled for Monday.

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