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South Bend Common Council waiting for city to make move in police tapes case

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Now that the judge has dismissed the police officers' complaint against the Common Council, the council is just waiting on the city to see if they'll get to see the police tapes they've been after for nearly six years.

The case centers around allegations that some South Bend police officers discussed illegal and/or unethical activities over the phone, which another employee recorded.

The Common Council wants the court to order the city to release the tapes, saying the public has the right to know if their officers said something illegal and unethical.

On the other side, the City and the police officers involved do not want the tapes to be released if they were obtained illegally.

Nearly six years after the case began and a month after the most recent hearing, the council, city, and officers are on procedural action 16 in the South Bend tapes case.

“The court ruled that since they [the police officers] had settled their claims with the city and had the opportunity to try to keep the council in and didn’t do so that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction," said Bob Palmer, attorney for the South Bend Common Council.

Basically, the judge is putting a freeze on the officers' individual case.

“While on the surface that appears to be pretty cut and dry, the judge also gave the city...30 days to amend their counter claim," said Palmer.

If the city doesn't file an amendment, the original counter claim will be heard, which requests that the City has the option to turn in the tapes to the court and let the court decide whether or not to release them.

If they do file an amendment, the council's attorney says he has no idea what that would mean, but it could further delay proceedings.

“I’ve dealt with complicated cases for 35 years, and this is the most procedurally complicated case that I’ve ever been involved in," said Palmer.

The judge seems to agree, saying in his January decision, 'The Court is faced with something of a logical (or perhaps illogical) conundrum."

“I’m very frustrated with the amount of time and the amount of money with the case itself...so it's adding up really quickly, and there really is no end in sight as far as how long this could continue to go on," said Palmer.

The judge handed down his decision on the officers' complaints on January 29 and gave the City administration 30 days to file an amendment.

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