MOTION FILED TO RECUSE JUDGE IN SLAVERY REPARATIONS CASE

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On Wednesday, December 10, 2003, Plaintiffs in the lawsuit for slavery reparations filed a motion demanding that Judge Charles R. Norgle, Sr. recuse himself from hearing their case against corporations that allegedly played a role in enslaving Africans. Norgle is a federal judge in the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in Chicago. The Plaintiffs expressed concerns that the Judge might have a remaining interest in a company that is merging with FleetBoston Financial Corporation, a key Defendant in the case. Plaintiffs express in concern that this could influence the Norgle's decisions in the case, and that his historical relationship with the bank gives the appearance that he lacks impartiality.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 11, 2003

CONTACT: DEADRIA FARMER-PAELLMANN

PHONE: 917-365-3007

MOTION FILED TO RECUSE JUDGE IN SLAVERY REPARATIONS CASE

On Wednesday, December 10, 2003, Plaintiffs in the lawsuit for slavery reparations filed a motion demanding that Judge Charles R. Norgle, Sr. recuse himself from hearing their case against corporations that allegedly played a role in enslaving Africans. Norgle is a federal judge in the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in Chicago.

Nine cases were filed around the country, between March 2002 and January 2003, against corporations for slavery reparations. They were consolidated in the Chicago federal court late last year. There are 20 Plaintiffs, and 19 defendants including: Aetna Inc., American International Group, Lloyd’s of London, New York Life Insurance Company, Southern Mutual Insurance Company, FleetBoston Financial Corporation, AFSA Data Corporation, Brown Brothers Harriman, JP Morgan Chase Manhattan Bank, Lehman Brothers, RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, Brown and Williamson, Liggett Group Inc., Loews Corporation (Lorrilard), Canadian National Railway, CSX Corporation, Norfolk Southern Corp., Union Pacific Railroad, and Westpoint Stevens Inc.

As grounds for their recusal demand, plaintiffs allege that Judge Norgle was employed by a company that is merging with FleetBoston Financial Corporation – a key defendant. They refer to a 1984 Senate Biographical Form where Norgle lists as his former employer, Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company, which merged with Bank of America in the 1990's. On October 27, 2003, Bank of America announced its merger with FleetBoston Financial Corporation. “Documentation suggests that FleetBoston’s predecessor bank, the Providence Bank of Rhode Island, played a role in the illegal enslavement of Africans in violation of Rhode Island State and U.S. Federal Law, and that billions of dollars in fines could be due,” said Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, lead Plaintiff in the lawsuits.

The test to determine whether a judge is disabled to preside over a case due to lack of impartiality is, "Whether a reasonable person, with knowledge and understanding of all the relavant facts, would conclude that a judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned," say Plaintiffs in their recusal papers.

Judge Norgle is widely known for being anti-plaintiff, particularly in Civil Rights cases. Thus far, he has consistently made decisions in the reparations case that seem to be bias against descendants of enslaved Africans. Earlier this year, he refused to issue orders to preserve evidence in the possession of defendants that could prove corporate complicity in slavery. Subsequently, he has delayed allowing depositions of sick and elderly Plaintiffs resulting in the loss of testimonial evidence from 20th Century slaves who have died or suffered incapacitating illness.

Plaintiffs believe that the Judge’s recusal is necessary for them to get a fair hearing in the case. A decision on the recusal motion is expected early next year.

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For more information about the lawsuit, please visit the Reparations Now!Petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/campaigns/reparationscorporations

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Deadria Farmer-paellmann
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