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Law Professors Ask Judge Not To Toss Jury’s ‘Code Of Silence’ Verdict

Anthony Abbate

Chicago Police Officer Anthony Abbate was sentenced to 41 months’ probation for beating bartender Karolina Obrycka in 2007. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Two law professors who have brought police misconduct cases against the city have asked a federal judge to reject Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s effort to set aside a jury’s judgment that a “code of silence” exists in the Chicago Police Department.

WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports the professors filed the motion this week, seeking to intervene in the case of the videotaped beating of bartender Karolina Obrycka by former Chicago cop Anthony Abbate.

A jury returned a verdict against the city and Abbate, finding that a code of silence exists in the department to protect officers in cases of misconduct, and awarding Obrycka $850,000 in damages for the beating.

The city and Obrycka’s attorneys have agreed to ask a judge to set aside the jury’s verdict regarding a code of silence. Under their deal, Obrycka would get the $850,000 in damages right away, and the city would not appeal the monetary damages. The city also would not accept any fault in the attack on Obrycka.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser Reports

The city has said vacating the judgment that a code of silence exists would protect the city from liability in future cases of alleged misconduct. It has insisted there have been improvements in the handling of police complaints since the infamous beating.

But attorneys who have filed numerous misconduct cases against police officers said tossing out that part of the jury’s verdict would send the wrong message.

“We have just seen a very powerful verdict from the federal jury about the code of silence,” said attorney Flint Taylor. “The fact that a federal jury has now found there to be a code of silence that was widespread within the Police Department obviously is significant.”

Law professors Locke Bowman and Craig Futterman have filed a motion to intervene in the Obrycka case, asking a judge to leave the jury’s verdict in place. They said the city shouldn’t be able to buy its way out of the jury’s verdict.

Taylor, who is not part of that motion, said the verdict would be a very powerful tool in future misconduct cases.

“These cases will allege a policy and practice of a code of silence that deals with covering up coerced confessions, fabricated confessions, torture, and other abuse,” he said.

A hearing on the proposed deal has been scheduled for Friday.