PARKERSBURG - A Wood County Circuit Court judge on Monday once again instructed the Parkersburg Police Civil Service Commission to determine findings of fact and conclusions of law in its decision to overturn the firing of Parkersburg police officer Floyd Holliday.
Judge Jeff Reed last spring returned the case to the commission to provide justification for its 2010 decision not to uphold Holliday's firing for allegedly stealing and downloading pornography onto another officer's computer. The commission never responded as attorneys noted the commission is no longer comprised of the same three members who made the initial 2010 ruling.
Only Bob Campbell, who was present in court Monday, remains on the commission. Former members Jeff Bungard and Jack Hunley have been replaced by Doug Kreinik and Joe Gonzales.
City attorney Joe Santer, from left, Civil Service Commission member Bob Campbell and attorney George Cosenza discuss the city’s appeal of the police Civil Service Commission’s ruling regarding the termination of Parkersburg police officer Floyd Holliday. (Photo by Jody Murphy)
George Cosenza, Holliday's attorney, asked the judge to make a determination. He compared the on-going case to an appeal from magistrate court.
"Based upon the language of the statute, the court may consider the record, the transcript or the recording of the hearing, much as it does with an appeal from magistrate court. The court can, then, make a determination in accordance with the precedent set forth in the previous memoranda submitted to the court," Cosenza said.
Reed, citing case law, said the commission is an institution, regardless of a change in membership.
He ordered the current commission - "as it is constituted" - to provide the court with its findings and conclusions. The commission has until Jan. 18.
City Attorney Joe Santer asked Reed to preclude Gonzales from the commission hearing. Santer said Gonzales was a character witness for Holliday when the case was first heard by the commission in December 2010.
"He testified on his behalf. He should be removed from this," Santer said. "You still have two members who can still act. You still have quorum. He should be precluded from participating."
Reed said he was previously unaware of Gonzales' ties to the Holliday hearing, but refused Santer's request.
"That's not before me at this point," Reed said. "I trust Gonzales will do the right thing- whatever the right thing is. I trust he will make the appropriate decision and make it soon."
Reed asked Santer to file an order remanding the case to the commission no later than Tuesday to give members notice to begin its work and have it returned to the judge by Jan. 18.
Holliday was fired by the city in June 2010 for the alleged theft of items after a traffic stop and for also allegedly downloading pornography onto another officer's laptop.
In December 2010, the civil service commission by a 2-1 vote overturned the firing. The commission did not dispute the alleged acts by Holliday, but stated "his conduct did not rise to the level to warrant termination." The city appealed the commission's decision.
Holliday has been on paid leave for more than two years, collecting $36,000 a year plus benefits.
It's conceivable the new-look commission could reach a different conclusion and uphold the city's termination of Holliday, which could lead to appeals to the state Supreme Court.
Cosenza started to ask Reed for more time before the judge cut him off.
"I'm not going to delay this any longer," Reed said.