Judge allows local lawyers to intervene in Abbate case

December 7, 2012

It will be at least another week before a final ruling is made in the case of an off-duty Chicago cop who beat up a bartender, as a judge is allowing two local lawyers to intervene in the case.

Judge Amy St. Eve could have ruled Friday whether or not to wipe away the verdict in the Anthony Abbate case. Jurors decided last month that a code of silence among Chicago cops helped shield Abbate from being cited with police misconduct. Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration and plaintiff Karolina Obrycka recently filed a joint motion to have that verdict erased.

But two local lawyers, Locke Bowman of Northwestern Law School, and Craig Futterman of the University of Chicago Law School have jumped in, asking to file an amicus brief describing why the judge should keep the verdict on the books.

"The consequence of the judgment that was rendered in this case is that it is a wake up call to the city of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department that they have systemic problems [like] a code of silence, patterns of not disciplining officers, and it produces grievous harm," said Locke Bowman. 

The city’s attorneys contest the motion has nothing to do with addressing future police misconduct, but rather is an opportunity for them to "do the right thing." Attorney Scott Jepson said in court Friday that vacating the judgment would eliminate the risk of other attorneys misusing the judgment in future cases, and thus saving taxpayers a lot of money.

Jepson said Obrycka will be paid every penny of the $850,000 in damages by the end of the month, no matter what Judge St. Eve rules. He said this shows the city is not, "buying its way out of the judgment."

Bowman and Futterman have until Tuesday to file the amicus brief, and St. Eve said the city will have until the end of that week to file their response. St. Eve said she won’t sit on the ruling, as she doesn't "want this to languish."