SOUTH BEND – It will likely be the end of the year before a federal judge makes a ruling on the legality of recorded phone calls that prompted a wiretapping investigation and subsequent lawsuits at South Bend's police department.
Tuesday, attorneys representing the city, the Common Council, demoted Police Chief Darryl Boykins, fired Communications Director Karen DePaepe and four police officers and one of their wives met face to face to discuss the matter for the first time in court.
They agreed to separate the case into two phases.
In the first phase, attorneys will present evidence on whether they think those phone conversations were recorded legally. That evidence, including interviews or depositions with potential witnesses, is due to be turned in to the judge by June 1. He’s expected to make a ruling on the outcome by the end of the year.
The second phase would address all other allegations in the lawsuits.
The wiretapping controversy led the mayor to demote Boykins and fire DePaepe last spring.
There are allegations that the recorded phone calls contain racially charged comments and possibly criminal content.
Last month, a federal judge blocked the Common Council's request to keep the case in circuit court.