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Superior Court Upholds Personnel Appeals Board’s Decision To Terminate Police Officer

CATEGORY: Client Update for Public Agencies, Fire Watch, Law Enforcement Briefing Room
CLIENT TYPE: Public Employers, Public Safety
DATE: May 03, 2022

LCW Managing Partner Scott Tiedemann and Senior Counsel Stefanie Vaudreuil convinced the superior court to uphold a city personnel appeals board’s decision to terminate a police officer. Previously, LCW persuaded the city’s personnel appeals board to uphold the termination of this officer for multiple offenses, including dishonesty and making derogatory, discourteous, and profane remarks to a suspect who the officer had detained and arrested.

The DA filed criminal charges against the officer for filing a false police report about the arrest and detention, but the officer was acquitted.

The officer then asked the superior court to reverse the personnel appeals board’s decision that upheld his termination.  However, both the notice of intent to terminate and notice of termination that officer received stated that any one of the several charges against the officer would support his termination.  The court noted that if the weight of the evidence supported any one of the charges, then the court could only overturn the termination if that level of penalty was an abuse of the city’s discretion.  The court found that at least three of the disciplinary charges were indeed supported by the weight of the evidence and that applying the penalty of termination was within the city’s discretion.

Following oral argument, the court published its final order upholding the termination. The final order added additional grounds for upholding the termination that was based on points LCW raised at the oral argument.

Note:

Not only did the officer’s disciplinary notices state that each individual charge was sufficient to support termination, but the Chief persuasively testified as to this point.  The court also heard LCW make this point in oral argument and included this point in its decision.

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