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. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

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  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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