Judge denies FOP’s effort to recuse her from vaccine mandate case

Chicago News

CHICAGO (AP) — A judge who ordered the president of Chicago’s police officers’ union to stop publicly encouraging his members to disobey the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on Wednesday refused the union’s request to recuse herself from the case.

The union wanted Cook County Judge Ceclila Horan to recuse herself because of what its attorney, Joel D’Alba, called the “appearance of impropriety.” The law firm where Horan was a partner before she became a judge had been involved with a task force that helped create a consent decree — widely criticized by the union — aimed at overhauling the police force a few years ago.

During the hearing, Horan said, “I did not know about the task force report at all when I was a partner at the firm.”

The ruling comes amid a battle between the city and John Catanzara, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Chicago, over a requirement that all city employees, including police officers, enter their vaccine status in the city’s data portal.

On Tuesday, Police Superintendent David Brown said 21 department employees had been placed on “no-pay status” for refusing to provide the information. He said the department needed to still talk to hundreds of officers who had thus far not provided the information.

“There have been mass email communications coming from officials other than Mr. Catanzara that we believe, if they do not violate the letter of your honor’s order, violate the spirit,” said attorney Michael Warner.

On Wednesday, the union’s first vice president, Michael Mette, posted a warning on the union website to “all you young coppers out there,” asking them “What issue is next?” if they give in and provide their vaccination status to the city.

He went on to compare the situation to the dystopian movie “The Hunger Games.”

An FOP meeting was held Wednesday night for officers to keep discussing the vaccine reporting mandate. Supt. Brown expects the number of officers who have reported their status to grow from 68% currently, to 80% by the weekend.

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