Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jones v. Department of Police

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

June 28, 2017

LAWRENCE JONES
v.
DEPARTMENT OF POLICE

         APPEAL FROM CITY CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION ORLEANS NO. 8482

          DONOVAN ANTHONY LIVACCARI LIVACCARI VILLARRUBIA LEMMON, LLC Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant

          REBECCA H. DIETZ CITY ATTORNEY OF NEW ORLEANS ELIZABETH ROBINS ASSISTANT CITY ATTORNEY ADAM J. SWENSEK ASSISTANT CITY ATTORNEY MATTHEW D. FRASER ASSISTANT CITY ATTORNEY Counsel for Defendant/Appellee

          Court composed of Chief Judge James F. McKay III, Judge Roland R. Belsome, Judge Regina Bartholomew Woods

          JAMES F. McKAY III, CHIEF JUDGE

         Officer Lawrence Jones, seeks review of the decision of the Civil Service Commission ("CSC") denying his appeal and upholding the New Orleans Police Department's disciplinary action under Rule IX §1, paragraph 1.1 of the Civil Service Commission for the City of New Orleans[1], and ordering that the Letter of Reprimand issued by the New Orleans Police Department ("NOPD") be amended to remove any reference to a violation of NOPD Policy 1020.5.1[2]. For the reasons set forth below we reverse.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         At the time of the action that is the basis for the complaint, Officer Lawrence Jones was employed by the NOPD as a police officer with permanent status. On February 2, 2015, Officer Lawrence Jones ("Officer Jones") and Officer Michael Smith ("Officer Smith"), while on patrol in the First District, were dispatched to a disturbance at 3340 Canal Street. Upon their arrival at the location, the officers were informed that Ms. Dana Earles ("Ms. Earles"), an intoxicated patron, had engaged in a confrontation with another patron. During the confrontation, Ms. Earles broke the other patron's sunglasses. The officers determined sufficient probable cause to arrest Ms. Earles for public intoxication and simple criminal damage to property. After the arrest, the officers placed Ms. Earles in the rear of the police vehicle for transport to New Orleans Central Lockup for booking. While in the rear of the police vehicle, Ms. Earles made numerous threatening statements to the arresting police officers. She also made allegations that she had been raped on an unknown date by an unknown police officer. In compliance with NOPD Procedure 1020.5.1, the officers notified their supervisor, Sergeant Henry Burke ("Sergeant Burke"), that they had an arrest that required his signature on the arrest affidavit. Sergeant Burke was informed that Ms. Earles had made allegations that she had been raped on an unknown date by an unknown police office.

         In the instant matter, an initial investigation allegedly began with Officer Jones receiving a DI-1 FORM (Initiation of a Formal Disciplinary Investigation)[3], informing Office Jones of the formal and written complaints against him. This resulted in the NOPD Public Integrity Bureau ("PIB") launching an investigation against Officer Jones for allegedly violating Rule 4, Performance of Duty, Paragraph 4, Neglect of Duty to wit, NOPD Procedure 1020.5.1, Initial Employee (non-supervisory) Responsibilities. This pre-disciplinary investigation was conducted by Sergeant Kimberly Hunt ("Sergeant Hunt"). On October 8, 2015, a disciplinary hearing was conducted by Commander Otha Sandifer ("Commander Sandifer"). After reviewing the administrative investigative report, Commander Sandifer determined that Officer Jones was in violation of the NOPD Operations Manual, specifically, Rule 4: Performance of Duty; Paragraph 4: Neglect of Duty, to wit NOPD Procedure 1020.5.1, ((Initial Employee (Non-Supervisory) Responsibilities)) and Rule IX, §1., paragraph 1.1 of the Rules of Civil Service Commission for the City of New Orleans. Commander Sandifer recommended that a Letter of Reprimand be issued to Officer Jones as a penalty for the violations. This disposition and penalty was sustained and signed by the Superintendent of Police Michael Harrison, thereby finalizing the disciplinary action. On November 30, 2015, a disciplinary letter reflecting the same was issued to Officer Jones. Officer Jones timely filed for an administrative appeal from this disciplinary action.

         On March 15, 2016, an appeal hearing was held before Hearing Officer Victor Papai, who after reviewing Officer Jones's appeal request, wrote a report recommending that Officer Jones's appeal be granted and the discipline be reversed because Officer Jones did what he was required to do under the NOPD Rules. Pursuant to the recommendation, Officer Jones was essentially exonerated as the NOPD failed to meet their burden of proof to establish legal cause for disciplinary action.

         Thereafter, on August 18, 2016, the CSC did not follow the recommendation of the hearing officer and issued a final decision denying Officer Jones's appeal. In that decision the CSC found that the NOPD (Appointing Authority) had failed to meet its burden of proof with regard to the alleged violation of NOPD Procedure 1020.5.1. Despite this finding the CSC ordered the NOPD to remove all references to Rule 4, Paragraph 4, to wit, NOPD Procedure 1020 5.1, and reissue a letter of reprimand to Officer Jones, pursuant to CSC Rule IX § paragraph 1.1, finding that "[Officer Jones] failed to perform a function it was his duty to perform. Namely, reporting any sexual assault directly to the sex crimes/sexual assault unit." The CSC found that: (1) that the violation had an adverse impact on the efficient operation of the NOPD, and (2) that the discipline (Letter of Reprimand) was commensurate with the offense, which is the basis of this appeal.

         ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

         Based upon the CSC's ruling, the appellant raises three assignments of error: The appellant asserts that the CSC erred by ordering the NOPD to take disciplinary action against Officer Jones for a new alleged violation after finding the NOPD failed to meet its burden of proof regarding the alleged violation described in the disciplinary letter issued to Officer Jones; by ordering the NOPD to take disciplinary action against Officer Jones without proper notice and due process; and, by ordering the NOPD to take disciplinary action against Officer Jones which is not authorized by Civil Service Rules.

         STANDARD ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.