PARKERSBURG - A judge has upheld the firing of a Parkersburg police officer more than three years ago.
Wood County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Reed issued the ruling Thursday, upholding the 2010 firing of Floyd Holliday.
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 computer.
In December 2010, the Parkersburg Police 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."
Holliday has been suspended with pay since the incident.
The city appealed the ruling, saying the commission had overstepped its authority.
On Thursday, Reed agreed, saying the commission had "abused its discretion" and upheld Holliday's termination. Reed pointed out not only had Holliday misused departmental property when he downloaded pornography he had been disciplined for the act prior to allegedly taking and keeping items obtained during a warrantless search of a vehicle.
"Taking all of this into consideration, this court would find that the commission abused its discretion by making a serious mistake in weighing the evidence and finding that this conduct does not warrant termination," Reed said in his decision.
Reed also said due to the nature of Holliday's alleged misconduct "the rights and interests of the public are directly affected."
Last spring, Reed returned the case to the commission to provide justification for its 2010 decision. Later the commission never responded as attorneys noted the commission is no longer comprised of the same three members who made the initial 2010 ruling.
Bob Campbell is the only member remaining on the commission that made the decision. Former members Jeff Bungard and Jack Hunley have been replaced by Doug Kreinik and Joe Gonzales.
In an earlier hearing Reed said the commission is an institution, regardless of a change in membership.
In December, Reed ordered the commission to file its findings by Jan. 18.
In his decision this week, Reed said the commission did not provide reasons for its decision on Holliday.
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said he was pleased with the decision.
"I'm not surprised that the judge ruled in the city's favor," he said. "It's a pretty clear-cut case. The whole thing is pretty unfortunate, really. I always felt the commission was in error and I'm glad the judge agreed."
Newell said Holliday has a 120-day period to appeal Reed's ruling.
Holliday's attorney, George Cosenza, said Thursday he had not spoken Holliday. Cosenza said if an appeal is filed, the case would go before the state Supreme Court of appeals.
"If you look at Judge Reed's ruling, it is a difficult case," Cosenza said. "So that is why we will have to evaluate it. Now I think we have to sit back and assess the opinion and make a decision whether we are going to go forward with an appeal."
Cosenza said he expects a decision to be made within the next several weeks.