The Universe of Discourse

Wed, 31 May 2023

More about _Cozzi v. Village of Melrose Park_

Earlier today I brought up the case of Cozzi v. Village of Melrose Park and the restrained but unmistakably threatening tone of the opening words of the judge's opinion in that case:

The Village of Melrose Park decided that it would be a good idea

I didn't want to distract from the main question, so I have put the details in this post instead. the case is Cozzi v. Village of Melrose Park N.D.Ill. 21-cv-998, and the judge's full opening paragraph is:

The Village of Melrose Park decided that it would be a good idea to issue 62 tickets to an elderly couple for having lawn chairs in their front yard. The Village issued ticket after ticket, imposing fine after fine, to two eighty-year-old residents, Plaintiffs Vincent and Angeline Cozzi.

The full docket is available on CourtListener. Mr. Cozzi died in February 2022, sometime before the menacing opinion was written, and the two parties are scheduled to meet for settlement talks next Thursday, June 8.

The docket also contains the following interesting entry from the judge:

On December 1, 2021, George Becker, an attorney for third-party deponent Brandon Theodore, wrote a letter asking to reschedule the deposition, which was then-set for December 2. He explained that a "close family member who lives in my household has tested positive for Covid-19." He noted that he "need[ed] to reschedule it" because "you desire this deposition live," which the Court understands to mean in-person testimony. That cancellation made perfect sense. We're in a pandemic, after all. Protecting the health and safety of everyone else is a thoughtful thing to do. One might have guessed that the other attorneys would have appreciated the courtesy. Presumably Plaintiff's counsel wouldn't want to sit in a room with someone possibly exposed to a lethal virus. But here, Plaintiff's counsel filed a brief suggesting that the entire thing was bogus. "Theodore's counsel cancelled the deposition because of he [sic] claimed he was exposed to Covid-19.... Plaintiff's counsel found the last minute cancellation suspect.... " That response landed poorly with the Court. It lacked empathy, and unnecessarily impugned the integrity of a member of the bar. It was especially troubling given that the underlying issue involves a very real, very serious public health threat. And it involved a member of Becker's family. By December 16, 2021, Plaintiff's counsel must file a statement and reveal whether Plaintiff's counsel had any specific reason to doubt the candor of counsel about a family member contracting the virus. If not, then the Court suggests a moment of quiet reflection, and encourages counsel to view the filing as a good opportunity for offering an apology.

[Other articles in category /law] permanent link