A Fight That Was Not Worthwhile

If it was your time and money at issue, would you risk an expensive, high profile lawsuit, and sweeping financial exposure over a used pair of $100 iPods?

Well that’s what Naperville did with your money when it charged an African American high school student with petty theft of another students used iPods. A case the City promptly lost after years of courtroom battles all over whether or not this student intentionally or mistakenly took the other student’s iPods. After the student was found innocent, the abundantly foreseeable Civil Rights lawsuit was filed.

A lawsuit that seeks $20 million dollars!

The figure demanded is absurd but she’s likely to get something out of this mess and Naperville could be on the hook for her attorney fees if she wins even $1 in court.

The Watchdog finds it incredible that the City has stepped into this circus over such a silly and small case. Sometimes you have to pick your battles and it’s hard to see what rationale person would start this fight and risk this lawsuit …. over what exactly?

The taxpayers will be big losers here no matter what happens in this case. Whoever made the decision to charge this girl with this petty crime in these circumstances should be held accountable.

 

 

Show 19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Bill McCormick

    It’s no coincidence that the young lady involved was an Naperville North HS student. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, NNHS has disproportionately disciplined blacks as compared to whites. Curiously, this disparity was much less at NCHS.

    The initial criminal citation was delivered by a school resource officer. My experience is that these officers take instructions from the school administrators, especially the principal. Ultimately, Principal Posey was responsible, both for this case and the racial disparity in discipline.

    Who backed the escalation and continued pursuit of the charge and why? Does Principal Posey have that much leverage? Does the prosecutor’s office support the disparity in racial discipline or otherwise seek to send a message? If so, why send a message through this case – especiallly when a gym locker room was burglarized that same year, resulting in at least 10x the collective loss to students but without charges?

    An innocent young lady was subject to unwise prosecution at great expense to her, her family and the taxpayers. Racial injustice at NNHS has been documented and reported. Lots of concerns. Anyone have answers?

  2. Joan Murray

    I agree with the watching. This is on the city and their officers, they are still not backing down. They issued a statement defending going to court, saying in part, “The fact that the jury acquitted Ms. Harris does not negate the factual basis for the actions of the City and its officers.” This is not the first lawsuit involving city officers and high schools. This will probably end up as an out of court settlement. Another concern for having “resource” officers in schools.

  3. Naperville's Northern Liberation Front

    The truly sad fact here is that the lesson of not stealing from your classmates is not being learned here. Lessons about racially charged public accusations, incredibly poorly thought out prosecutions, criminally incompetent management of our taxes, and creating endless opportunities for race-baiting lawyers is what we are getting. There has not been a single sign of intelligent life in this entire episode. Shame on everyone involved, their behavior has been nothing short of a massive betrayal of their duties and an abuse of power. Any public employee who was involved in the decision making process behind this debacle should immediately tender their resignation, for they are frauds and not worthy of our attention or taxes.

    • Jimmy Bisquets

      Who is the NNLF? They self identify as little Wisconsiner’s. Take a ride thru their territory, Morrison’s Addition. Overturned trash cans, uncut grass, unfortunate looking children playing in the streets, 4 dogs barking in every yard.

      I think their rambling MAGA views are not fit for this forum were ideas should be shared and built upon, not trolled by snarky “Liberators”. To NNLF: pack your above ground pools into your pre 2010 junker cars and move to the real Wisconsin. Thank you Jimmy

      • Naperville's Northern Liberation Front

        The NNLF welcomes your thoughts “Jimmy” although, as this is Naperville I KNOW JIMMY TOO!! And you, Sir, are not the loveable restaurateur and Energizer Bunny of civic pride and engagement. In fact, it is your narrow minded focus, and prejudice against the vibrant home we enjoy north of the train tracks (historically the dumping ground for America’s deplorables and discomforting populations) that has caused the NNLF to emerge from the quiet, polite, law-abiding shadows to counter bullying.

        When neo-fascists start to spin their wicked schemes to treat Scott Huber as if he is just an unlucky Gazan, and de-home him because their sensibilities are offended, we must speak. When greedy merchants violate our library parking with impunity, we must speak. When somebody (cough, cough neo-fascists) welcomes drug dealers and golfers with rap sheets to our family-centric entertainment venues, we WILL speak. And when the totalitarian spectre of an unchained League of Women Voters starts to cackle about flushing our Constitution down the latrine, we are at the barricades of public debate. We will resist this. We will have a loud, and quite danceable beat for our pleas to heaven. And we WILL be the guardians of morality and polite exchange.

        Your jealousy about our relaxed waste management, love of dogs, and practical swimming holes in our backyards is not a compelling reason to move to Larger Wisconsin, we are in fact too busy making sure that the elites and the haters remember that every train needs it’s caboose, every child matters, especially when coal mining, and democracy dies when left in the hands of fools. We are North Naperville, and we Stand For Something. And the National Anthem, and for Ladies when approach the dinner table, and for well hit fastballs that look they have the legs to get out of the park. We stand with enormous faith and deep abiding love for our hometown. We Stand United.

    • Bill McCormick

      Agreed, NNLF. Jimmy, you can be assured my view has no basis in the absurdity referred to as MAGA/Trump,

  4. Jim Haselhorst

    Sadly this lawsuit is more likely to make a bad situation worse then anything else.

    If the problem is with the school district operations of North Naperville High School then this lawsuit will resolve nothing since the school district is not being sued. In fact the school district has faced little if any real backlash from this incident.

    Retrying this case in a civil court is a bad idea. The standard in a criminal court is the much high standard of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is easy to establish when the accused claims it was an accident with no mens rea or indent to convert. In civil court there is no need to establish mens rea or indent to convert, only reason man belief. So if a reasonable person, looking at the preponderance of the evidence, would conclude she stole another student’s property then she is guilty.

    This could easily create a situation were this young lady is found innocent in a criminal court but guilt in a civil court (like happened to OJ Simpson). The legal liabilities for her and her family could be very great, depending on how much the city spends defending this case and if any punitive damages are sought by the city in response to her suit.

    Not sure who is providing this young lady her legal counsel, but I wouldn’t hire them.

    • Fred Higgins

      https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2019/crime-in-the-u.s.-2019/topic-pages/tables/table-43

      Jim, you really aren’t as smart as you think you. Number one, I highly doubt this case will ever see a court room. It will most likely be settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. I am guessing she’ll get less than 100k in her settlement.

      Number two, she is most likely doing this so in the future when her potential employers google her name they will see she sued so it will make it appear that she really wasn’t guilty, although I suspect she was.

      Number three, on a per capita basis (especially robbery) blacks have a much higher crime rate so I don’t see racism at all in what the school did, but that’s what we’ve come to in this George Floyd era.

      • Bill McCormick

        Fred, you should have stopped with points one and two. On those we can agree.

        This story was reported by The Chicago Tribune as part of its series on school’s racial disparity in disciplinary action. Disciplinary statistics showed that discipline of blacks at NNHS (and a few other suburban high schools) were significantly greater than comparative schools. Either (1) blacks that attend NNHS have rebellious qualities that are unique from blacks in neighboring high schools, including NCHS, (2) NNHS does not foster equitable treatment of the races, or (3) there is some other, as yet unadvanced, theory to explain the statistically significant disparity in discipline. Based on my parenting of three NNHS students, two of whom were white, I believe explanation #2.

        Your mention of robbery is befuddling. The FBI includes “force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear” as an element of robbery. No one involved in this case
        has made that claim. Are you uninformed, willfully ignorant, or in search of data to support a racially-biased view of justice?

  5. Jim Haselhorst

    Fred, First this young lady is not a crime stat. She is a human being an apply “probabilities” to a person based on gender, age, sexual orientation and yes, race is prejudice and more specifically in the case of race, racism. That is why in my post I never mentioned race or racism. Yes, some comments have been made about this High School targeting students based race but implying I was comment on this based on my post is an assumption on your part.

    Second, she was found innocent, which means she can petition the court to expunge any record of this case, so no future employer would ever know it ever occurred. A lawsuit would only increase the chances of an employer finding out about these criminal charges.

    Third, I did not make any statement of what the probability was of this case making it to a courtroom. I only stated what was most likely to happen if it did.

    • Fred Higgins

      Jimmy, you really can’t be that dumb to think expunging her record will remove this story from the internet, can you? Oh never mind, I already know the answer to my question. Apparently some of you aren’t bright enough to connect the dots between, “more blacks in Naperville Schools are targeted for tickets, arrests and crime statistics.” It’s not racism, it’s called statistics and facts. Facts are stubborn things, you can ignore them all you want but it doesn’t change the facts.

      Ask Benny why he lives in Naperville and not Garfield Park.

      • Jim Haselhorst

        And your use of statistics to justify targeting minorities is prejudicial at best. As our judicial system holds that you are innocent until proven guilty, which is a direct result of US Constitutional protections.

        Statistics are data not facts. Facts can come from the results of properly applied and analyzed data as well as other sources (i.e. laws of pure sciences). In your case your analysis of the data of group statistic applied to individuals is in error.

        In the case of this young lady a criminal court found her innocent so unless you have proof that she was tried and convicted of some other crime she is a law abiding citizen with all the same rights, privileges and protections as any other law abiding person without regard to gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.

  6. Naperville's Northern Liberation Front

    A uniquely troubling nit to pick here- but it is a PRESUMPTION of innocence until PROVEN guilty. There is no finding of innocent, as the question before the Court is: Guilty or Not Guilty. No multiple choice answers added. The Alleged Perpetrator/Justice Involved Person was found Not Guilty in this case. The presentation of facts in that trial did not provide an argument that satisfied the burden of proof compelling enough for a jury to convict her. She was not exonerated, nor was the fact that she was in possession of headphones that were not hers, that she couldn’t get to pair with her phone for some unknown, but potentially racially motivated reason ever expunged from reality.

    What was glaringly missing in this paean to chuckle-headed legal buffoonery is the “DOH” moment of realizing that the theft protections that you buy with Apple products are pretty robust, and make one a very obvious person of interest with a history of poorly pairing headphones that seem to pair with a lot of different people’s phones. If that’s the same rights, privileges and protections spoken of, I would ask two thoughts- why don’t the rest of us get those same protections when confronted by a recidivist headphone confuser? And what happened to the fourth, and most important of those requisites for law-abiding citizens… to wit- the same responsibilities shared by all in that community. That includes not becoming justice-involved with things that don’t belong to you.

  7. Ralph Hartman

    Innocent until proven guilty. Never proven guilty, so she’s innocent.

    • Naperville's Northern Liberation Front

      If it’s snowing on Tuesday, a tesseract shaped reality traveling backward equals x mph therefore innocent. Logical fallacies are not an actual legal determination. There is a “presumption” of innocence, in that the weight of evidence must prove guilt to the jury, until then the presumption is that they haven’t. There is no finding of “innocent” only a presumption until guilt is proven through testimony and evidence. It is a wicked self-deception that the reverse is then a finding of innocence, it is merely not proving guilt.

      Splitting logical hairs is necessary- saying the accused in this case was “found innocent” is not a fact. The alleged perpetrator here was found not guilty. That is the fact. Nothing more, nothing less. Words matter.

      And this was still a shameful exercise in bad judgement all around. Everyone involved would be far better to just quietly let this embarrassing chapter end, and then burn the damn book.

      • Joan Murray

        Innocent until proven guilty. Didn’t break any laws so they are innocent.

        Legal principle is that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. They weren’t proven guilty so they are innocent. The principle isn’t not guilty until proven guilty

        • Naperville's Northern Liberation Front

          Exactly wrong. Because “not guilty” does not mean innocence, it means acquittal, i.e. that the proof of guilt was insufficient beyond reasonable doubt. Trials do not establish innocence because it is presumed, as in the presumption of innocence. Innocence is a matter of fact, not guilty is a matter of proving in a court of law. The difference between a false claim and an unproven claim.

          The concepts “not guilty” and “innocent” are radically different.

      • Jim Haselhorst

        WOW, wordsmith from a poster that normally attacks people for practicing wordsmith. Not guilty is Innocent, meaning innocent of the charges, innocent of the accusations, innocent of any wrong doing.

        Lawyers, Judges, legal experts all use the terms not guilty and innocent interchangeably all the time. And since these are the people with the greatest understanding of the legal definition of these terms, ration and reason dictates using these terms the same way they do. End of story.

        • Joan Murray

          And an anonymous poster. I thought this page wasn’t allowing anonymous posters?

          However you want to look at it she is innocent. She wasn’t proven guilty, innocent until proven guilty.

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