Chicago panhandlers win in court over sheriff’s office

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CHICAGO (AP) – Jurors at civil trial in Chicago have awarded $1,500 each to two panhandlers who took one of the nation’s largest sheriff’s offices to court for violating their rights to ask passers-by for money.

Jurors returned Thursday with a decision largely favoring Kim Pindak and Sam Phillips. Their lawyer says she’s “thrilled” and hopes the outcome draws attention to panhandlers’ rights.

Pindak and Phillips claimed they lost money because Cook County sheriff’s deputies told them they couldn’t beg at a public plaza.

A judge ruled their rights were violated, so jurors had to decide damages.

A sheriff’s office attorney cited Pindak’s professed talent at chess, suggesting the lawsuit was a money-making scheme.

Pindak said after the decision he’d spend most of the $1,500 on necessities but would also buy chess books.

By MICHAEL TARM, Associated Press