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Old 02-17-2016, 08:25 AM
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Default US court rules ‘Hispanic’ is a race in discrimination suit

http://nypost.com/2016/02/16/us-cour...mination-suit/

US court rules ‘Hispanic’ is a race in discrimination suit
By Lia Eustachewich
February 16, 2016 | 8:02pm

A federal appeals court has tossed out a $1.35 million award to a Long Island cop who sued after he was passed up as police chief for a Hispanic officer.

The panel of three Second Circuit judges overturned the judgment and ordered a new trial to be held after a jury sided with Lt. Christopher Barrella in May 2014 that he was discriminated against by ex-Freeport mayor Andrew Hardwick.

In a 50-page decision released Tuesday, the judges said the case must be retried because testimony from several witnesses that “speculated” Hardwick’s motives for promoting Lt. Miguel Bermudez as top cop over Barrella should have never been allowed at trial.

Bermudez is Cuban, while Barrella is Italian-American, the court papers say.

Barrella, who has a master’s degree in criminal justice and a law degree, testified that Bermudez was less qualified for the position.

In 2010, Hardwick, who is black, appointed Bermudez as chief, referring to him as the village’s “first Hispanic police chief.”

The appeals court also shut down the argument by attorneys for Hardwick and Freeport that Hispanics aren’t a distinct “race” – and therefore, no discrimination occurred.

“Mr. Hardwick is confident … the various complicated issues that were presented in this trial, that he will be vindicated concerning the elevation of Miguel Bermudez …” said Ken Novikoff, who represents Hardwick.

Freeport’s lawyer Keith Corbett added: “We appreciate the appeal court’s due deliberation and look forward to the complete vindication of our client’s rights.”

Meanwhile, Barrella’s lawyer Amanda Fugazy was confident a second jury will rule again in her client’s favor.

“We believe the Second Circuit opinion confirms our client’s legal claims,” she said.

Bermudez still serves as Freeport’s police chief and Barrella remains on the force as a lieutenant.
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