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CHICAGO — The chief judge of Northern Illinois U.S. District Court is appointing lawyers for grand jurors who he said there is “probable merit” to believe were fired from their jobs by employers who may have violated the law prohibiting retaliation for jury service. Chief Judge James Holderman said in a statement Wednesday that this may be the first time in Chicago that such claims are brought against employers if the two jurors pursue lawsuits. The two jurors were Darren Blake, who was terminated from his job as a custodian at Evanston Township High School in October 2006 after starting to serve on a grand jury in August of that year, and Katherine Bregar, a case manager at Cornerstone Services Inc. in Joliet, Illinois, who began her service on a special grand jury on Aug. 11, 2006 and was terminated about two weeks later. Blake’s charges are “completely inaccurate” and the school encourages employees to honor their civic duties, said Kathy Miehls, director public relations for the township of Evanston. The attorneys appointed to the case are Richard J. Gonzalez, who will be representing Blake, and Lisa Kane, who will represent Bregar.

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