ILNews

Federal judge won't overturn jury verdict

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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Ruling on his first jury trial as a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen declined to overturn a jury verdict in favor of a fired East Chicago worker who'd claimed she lost her job for political reasons.

In an eight-page ruling on Aug. 1 in Blanca I. Camacho v. George Pabey, et al., No. 2:05-cv-456, Judge Van Bokkelen ruled that a reasonable jury had evidence to find in favor of Camacho and award her $250,000.

Camacho was a restaurant inspector when she was fired in 2005, months after Mayor George Pabey took office. Camacho was one of more than two dozen former city workers who alleged they were fired for political reasons following the new mayor's taking office, and she sued Pabey, the city, and its human resources chief.

Most of the other suits were dismissed, but Camacho's suit made it to trial and became the first where jurors found in her favor. The November 2007 verdict awarded her $225,000 against the city and $25,000 in punitive damages.

East Chicago attorneys filed a motion in April for the judge to reverse that verdict and enter a judgment on grounds of insufficient evidence. But Judge Van Bokkelen declined to do that Aug. 1, ruling that a reasonable jury could have disbelieved the defendants' explanation that Camacho was fired to reduce city expenses and not because of political reasons.

Attorneys for the city have told local media they plan to appeal Judge Van Bokkelen's decision to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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