Legal Ethics

Comp Hearing Scheduled 'On the Sly' for Texting Cop Who Caused Fatal Accident

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A lawyer arbitrator tried to keep reporters out of a public hearing by scheduling a hearing date “on the sly,” her e-mails reveal.

The Belleville News Democrat obtained the e-mails of Jennifer Teague, an arbitrator with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, through a freedom of information request. The hearing will decide whether a former state trooper will receive compensation for injuries suffered when his car slammed into a car in the opposite lane, killing two teens.

Authorities say the trooper was driving 126 miles an hour while talking and texting on his cell phone, according to Courthouse News Service and the Associated Press. He pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in the case.

Workers compensation hearings are supposed to be open to the public. The Belleville News Democrat quotes from these e-mails:

• From Teague to a court reporter, asking for possible dates she can work at the hearing: “We are going to try and do it on the sly with no press.”

• From Teague to the trooper’s lawyer: “There is nothing I can do to keep [News Democrat reporters] out of a public hearing, but will be more than willing to do a special setting and an unknown place and time!”

Teague is one of eight workers compensation arbitrators for the state who have themselves filed workers comp claims, the News Democrat says. Teague is seeking compensation for repetitive trauma.

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