Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil

January 3, 2013

On November 13, 2012 a federal jury awarded $850,000 to bartender Karolina Obrycka. The verdict stemmed from a February 2007 attack Obrycka endured at the hands Anthony Abbate, an off-duty Chicago police officer at the time. Abbate, whose drunken actions were captured on video, went behind the bar at Jesse’s Short Stop Inn and proceeded to pummel Obrycka, a woman half his size. Afterward, Abbate is alleged to have threatened to plant cocaine and falsely charge Obrycka if she complained about the beating or released the video to the public. High-ranking members of the Chicago Police Department are also accused of facilitating an alleged cover up.  View the Complaint at Law at 2007 WL 1622093:

 

The issue of the cover-up was the most legally significant part of the case. In addition to damages awarded Obrycka, the jury specifically held the Chicago Police Department responsible due to an ongoing unofficial code of silence. The City of Chicago sought to vacate the judgment, agreeing to pay awarded damages regardless of whether the verdict was set aside. Opponents argued that vacating the judgment would allow officers to continue to hide behind a blue wall of silence. Specifically, Craig Futterman and Locke Bowman, law professor at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, respectively, averred that the city should not be permitted to escape a finding that it covered up the misconduct of its officers by erasing the adjudication as if it never existed.

On December 20, 2012 U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve refused to vacate that jury’s finding. (2012 WL 6642354) She relied on the fact that the City of Chicago chose to fight the suit instead of settling. Furthermore, Judge St. Eve noted that allowing the City to set aside the jury’s decision would set a bad precedent—one that could lead to the deterrence of settlements. However, she also reasoned that the facts of the Abbate case would limit her ruling’s applicability. The only issue remaining in the case is that of attorney’s fees. It’s estimated that Obrycka’s attorney will be awarded legal fees in the millions, a hefty price tag for misconduct.

The “Second City” might want to take a second look at its police culture.

Using variations of the phrase “blue wall” delivers relevant police misconduct results.  Try these searches on WestlawNext:

police “law enforcement” /p code “blue wall” /3 silence (186)
Content: Cases
Jurisdiction: All States

Plaintiff’s counsel faced an uphill battle establishing corroboration of sexual harassment given the chain-of-command within police departments (the “blue wall of silence”), the now-proven pattern of threats and intimidation used … Ferante v. Sciaretta, HNTL-584-02, 2003 WL 22048115 (N.J. Super. Ct. July 17, 2003)

police “law enforcement” /p code “blue wall” /3 silence (6)
Content: Jury Verdicts & Settlements
Jurisdiction: All States

The plaintiff further contended that the defendant and other officers engaged in a conspiracy to remain silent about the defendants actions pursuant to a blue code of silence policy within the department. McCoy v. Dean III, et al., JVR No. 389777

ti,pr(code “blue wall” /3 silence & police “law enforcement”) (8)
Content: Secondary Sources
Jurisdiction: All State & Federal

These results include documents from,  Police Misconduct: Law and Litigation:

In 1936, a leading police administration expert, August Vollmer, wrote: “It’s unwritten law in police departments that police officers must never testify against their brother officers.” This code of silence does more than prevent testimony. It mandates that no officer report another for misconduct, that supervisors not discipline officers for abuse, that wrongdoing be covered up, and that any investigation or legal action into police misconduct be deflected and discouraged. Police Misconduct: Law and Litigation § 11:17