Intrigued by the suggestion that reporters might find something of interest in Federal Magistrate P. Michael Mahoney’s Rockford courtroom last Friday, I ventured west.
I tired to figure out what magistrate’s do. A Chicago lawyer gave me a long, convoluted explanation which a layman summarized as “judge’s assistant work.”
After sitting through over an hour involving little and larger points of dispute, I concluded that magistrates get cases ready for Federal Judges.
Turns out there were two cases involving former McHenry County Deputy Sheriff Zane Seipler. The first, Dooley vs. McHenry County seems to have been brought by relatives of a man killed while threatening deputies. An attorney named Rosenbloom was probing for information about whether the Sheriff’s Department knew whether the person who died had “mental health issues.”
He refused to explain more about the case after he left the courtroom, even though he indicated he would after he talked to another attorney.
Magistrate Mahoney runs a cheerful courtroom.
Again and again he’d tell lawyers after their short appearance,
“Have a great weekend, counselors.”
A question of whether a man had control of evidence in a storage unit controlled by his ex-girl friend brought this comment from Mahoney:
“If indeed his ex-girl friend is in control. Not returning phone calls is not a good sign.”
After about an hour, the other Seipler case, Seipler v. Cundiff, was called.
There were three lawyers.
Seipler’s, Blake Horwitz, stood in the middle.
An attorney whose name I couldn’t catch (I’ll call him “the Pavlin case attorney”) was representing three deputies who were being sued with regard to what happened to two elderly Crystal Lake residents named Pavlin. Mr. Pavlin was injured, if memory serves me correctly.
On his right was the lawyer representing Sheriff Nygren, James Sotos. He is defending against Seipler’s suit for wrongful termination.
The question at hand was whether Seipler’s attorney would be allowed to ask questions of the three deputies, who turned out to be Greg Pyle, Chris Jones and Jeremy Bruketta.
The Pavlin attorney started his presentation by pointing out that there was a “history behind both of these cases demonstrating a great deal of animosity.”
I didn’t catch which deputy was saying this about another, but the quote was,
“You’re a liar. You’re a felon.”
The Pavlin case attorney told of Seipler’s having complained about at least two of the deputies his attorney wanted to depose to the State’s Attorney and the FBI. I may have missed a third entity.
The Pavlin case attorney complained that Seipler’s attorney already had a great deal of information and wondered what questions would be asked. Perhaps,
“Are you involved in racial profiling?”
“Are you saying their depositions can’t be taken?” the Magistrate asked.
The answer led to his reaching that conclusion, but he pointed out that two of them are accused of racial profiling.
“I’ve been informed that Mr. Horwitz has the tickets,” he continued.
“When I went through them,” Mahoney continued, “there were a lot of pictures who didn’t look white.”
“I’ll produce, if you’ll tell me how they are related to your retaliatory discharge,” the opposing attorney said. “None (of the three) were decision-makers.”