McHenry County Blog sat though the Rockford hearing before Magistrate P. Michael Mahoney a week ago on December 15, 2010. While I took notes, I thought it best to wait until I could obtain a copy of the transcript of the day before publishing anything.
The underlying case is one in which former McHenry County Deputy Sheriff Zane Seipler, who ran unsuccessfully against Sheriff Keith Nygren in the spring GOP primary election, sued the department for wrongful termination. Racial profiling has been a centerpiece of the case.
The first part of the transcript follows:
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
ZANE SEIPLER, ) Docket No. 08 C 50257
Plaintiff, ) Rockford, Illinois
) Wednesday, December 15, 2010
v. ) 2:45 o’clock p.m.
CAPTAIN ANTON CUNDIFF, et )
TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS
BEFORE THE HONORABLE P. MICHAEL MAHONEY
For the Plaintiff: THE BLAKE HORWITZ LAW FIRM, LTD.
(20 S. Clark Street, Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60603) by
MR. BLAKE WOLFE HORWITZ
For the Defendants: JAMES G. SOTOS & ASSOCIATES, LTD.
(550 E. Devon, Suite 150, Itasca, IL 60143) by
MR. JAMES G. SOTOS
Court Reporter: Mary T. Lindbloom
211 South Court Street, Rockford, Illinois 61101
(The following is from a tape recording of proceedings:)
THE COURT: All right. 08 C 50257, Seipler v. Cundiff.
Good afternoon, counsels.
MR. HORWITZ: Good afternoon, Judge.
MR. SOTOS: Good afternoon, your Honor. Jim Sotos for the defendants.
MR. HORWITZ: Blake Horwitz for the plaintiff.
THE COURT: All right, counsels. I’ve got a lot of material here. Why don’t you just start off with tell me where you think everything’s at at this point in time. Three minutes, though. Tell me where you think you’re at.
MR. HORWITZ: With regards to the status of discovery?
THE COURT: Status of discovery, where you think the case is going, what order you want me to take these motions on, anything you want to talk about. This should be just Merry Christmas to you.
MR. HORWITZ: Three minutes. Is it like a lawyer’s — is it a lawyer’s three minutes, or are we talking —
THE COURT: Well, you’ve already used up 15 seconds. See, that’s always a mistake.
MR. HORWITZ: All right. So, generally speaking, we are prepared to be, I would say, close or at the end of discovery as of today. And as you read in the motion, which there’s an issue about it being under seal, which we need to address. So, that’s question mark number one.
Where Deputy Milliman came forward and articulated that there was a long line of criminal activity that Sheriff Nygren was involved in. Some of the criminal activity would be 404(b) evidence. Other criminal activity would be 608 evidence.
Targeted criminal activity concerns the conduct of Sheriff Nygren and a gentleman by the name of Jose Rivera, which has an established — have established connection with the two of them.
In fact, they’ve recently gone on a meeting over in federal court, believe it or not, with Judge Barasa (phonetic), within the last week. So, they have a tight connection, the three of them — the two of them, excuse me — Jose Rivera and Sheriff Nygren and the criminal activity that they were engaged in.
One was to bring Hispanics undocumented over to McHenry County, actually to a particular apartment complex called the Stonelake apartment complex. That apartment complex is a place where officers engage in racial profiling. The officers that engage in racial profiling, the evidence would be, are Bruketta and Jones, the officers that we’ve talked about.
THE COURT: Wait a minute. You mean they lived there or what?
MR. HORWITZ: No. Stonelake Apartments is a place where many, many, many Hispanics, if not mostly Hispanics, live. I haven’t taken a poll. But my client actually lives very close to there, and the facts are that it’s a place where there’s a very high percentage of Hispanics that live there, a very, very high percentage.
THE COURT: What’s this got to do with Bruketta?
MR. HORWITZ: Bruketta and Jones, especially Jones, there’s evidence that those officers actually stopped their vehicle at that location where the Stonelake Apartments are with the intention of developing a high number of arrests, which they benefit from, high number of arrests, and the arrests that they seek to undertake are those with regard to Hispanics. So, that’s racial profiling.
THE COURT: And they benefit because they advance as far as the Sheriff’s Department —
MR. HORWITZ: Yes.
THE COURT: — is concerned or they get priority as far as picking vacation days or something like that?
MR. HORWITZ: Officer Bruketta, for example, he was on the department I believe for a year or a little bit less than a year, and his promotion was — and his self articulated promotion, meaning in his deposition said by being active performing arrests, generating lots of tickets, etc., I became a K-9 officer. That is a promotion at the department. So, each officer, though he’s not a sergeant, which we wouldn’t actually consider — I wouldn’t actually consider to be a promotion —
THE COURT: How does that come in? Your case that you’ve got pending here claims that your client’s First Amendment rights were violated because he complained publicly, which is what he’d have to, about racial profiling and got fired because of that, right?
MR. HORWITZ: Yes. He went to the Illinois State Police, FBI, the EEOC, his supervisors, etc., yes.
THE COURT: All right. Then he gets at least retaliated against. Okay?
MR. HORWITZ: Job demotions and termination.
THE COURT: That’s right. Now, now you’re sliding over and talking about this illegal activity. Now, the only way I can think that you can even try to connect this up with your lawsuit is to say what? One of the reasons the sheriff was so sensitive about this issue was because of this alleged illegal conduct, and so that’s why he fired your guy? In other words, counsel —
MR. HORWITZ: That is one of the bases.
THE COURT: Well, how does it fit into your lawsuit at this point? Your guy has a relatively straightforward lawsuit.
He says, “I saw racial profiling. I thought it was wrong. I complained about it. I went outside. I broke the code. And because of that, I was trampled on,” right?
MR. HORWITZ: Yes.