Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Larry Rogers, Jr., received a standing ovation during last Saturday’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition program honoring Circuit Court Judge Arnette Hubbard after he revealed he won her lawsuit against a white man who spit on her and slapped her in the face then told her, “Rosa Parks, move.”
Rogers, who is also a lawyer, remained steadfast in seeking a written apology from her attacker.
David Nicosia, who weighed more than 240 pounds, was outraged that Judge Hubbard, on a break from her official duties as a judge, was smoking near him as he sat on a bench outside Daley Plaza.
Rogers described the scene between the two noting Nicosia’s abundant weight and “Judge Hubbard is a petite, beautiful young woman who was no more than 110 pounds. He tried to intimidate her with his size and presence and being the strong woman she is, she did not back down and stood her ground and we stood with her.”
Rogers said Nicosia was at the Daley Plaza to pick up a marriage license because he and his longtime significant other planned to get married. While Nicosia blamed the incident on his not marrying his longtime significant other, Rogers said he married him four or five years later.
The nightmare for Hubbard began on July 14, 2014, when Nicosia aggressively complained about her smoking near him as he sat on a bench on the Daley Plaza. When he said her smoke was invading his space, Hubbard, who was standing by a waste container so she could dispose of her cigarette when she finished, said she couldn’t smoke in the chambers and came outside to Daley Plaza.
When she didn’t move, Nicosia spat on and slapped Judge Hubbard, telling her, “Rosa Parks, move.” Hubbard suffered post-concussion syndrome after Nicosia attacked her and she couldn’t work for over a year.
Nicosia was arrested and charged with aggravated battery and a hate crime. However, in August of 2016, Judge James Obbish acquitted Nicosia, blaming Hubbard for not moving as her attacker had requested.
In an exclusive interview with the Chicago Crusader, Commissioner Rogers said he told Judge Obbish that he wanted an apology from Nicosia in writing but was told by the judge that was not going to happen.
“Apologies are rarely part of any civil case, and our objective in this case was to hold this man accountable for the disrespect he showed an icon in our community, Judge Arnette Hubbard. He was very disrespectful to her,” Rogers stated.
Referring to Judge Obbish acquitting Nicosia of all charges, Rogers said, “We were very disappointed at what happened at the criminal trial.” As a result, Rogers filed a civil case on Judge Hubbard’s behalf and prepared a case for trial.
“On the doorsteps of the courthouse, before we were to select a jury, they made some overtures to try to resolve the case. I expressed to them that it would never be resolved without an apology for what he did…,” but Rogers said Judge Obbish thought that would never happen.
“In civil cases all a jury can do is to give you compensation of money damages,” Rogers said.
But he refused to give in he said, and “They agreed to a written, signed apology and acknowledgment, which was an integral part of the agreement that was reached, as well as financial compensation.”
Rogers was referring to Nicosia’s insistence that Judge Hubbard move from the place she was entitled to stand, and that she stood her ground, much like Rosa Parks did in refusing to relinquish her bus seat to a white passenger. When Hubbard refused to obey him, Nicosia got in her face and told her, “Rosa Parks, move.”
The Commissioner equated his victory of Nicosia’s using the name of Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks, who in 1955 refused to give up her seat on a public Alabama bus to a white man that sparked a major Civil Rights Movement across this nation.
“What he said was directly, was not just to Judge Hubbard but also to our community,” Rogers said, reflecting on the day of the trial when he said people in the courtroom wore Rosa Parks T-shirts.
“We incorporated in our demand that any apology would include an acknowledgment of the significant role that Rosa Parks made in our history and his appreciation for why his statement was so hurtful,” Rogers said.
When asked if this was a victory for him, Rogers said, “I think it is a testament to our civil justice system, where we are held by the criminal justice system, which all the prosecutors and judges have control over. You have the right and ability to bring your own individual civil claim, which is what I do in my practice every day for people who have been aggrieved or harmed.
“[What] we were able to in this particular case, elevate what was most important, which was the apology, above the compensation for what he did.
“The apology and the acknowledgment that he was wrong and that he insulted not just her, but our community, was vitally important to Judge Hubbard so we made sure he was held accountable for that,” Rogers said.
Asked if this is a victory for the Civil Rights Movement, Rogers said, “I think so. Judge Hubbard means a lot to our community, not just to the Black community but the legal community. She is truly a living legend and icon who has accomplished many firsts over the course of her career.
“To represent her and to hold this gentleman accountable for his attack on her and our community was important to me, and I was honored that she allowed me to represent her,” Rogers said.
After Rogers’ revelation about winning the case against Nicosia, praise for her long career was made by Reverend Jesse Jackson and others. Senator Jacqueline Collins delivered a proclamation on behalf of Judge Hubbard.