Friday, August 15, 2014

Federal Judge Orders Investigation of Arbitral Awards

Interestingly, a federal judge has ordered an investigation into why a municipality consistently loses arbitration cases with officers who are appealing discipline. U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson opined that an arbitrator's recent decision overturning the termination of a the City of Oakland police officer videotaped tossing a tear gas grenade into a crowd of Occupy Oakland protesters struck at the heart of a reform he oversees. The judge maintains reversal of appropriate discipline at arbitration undermines the very objectives of a court-sanctioned reform effort following a police brutality scandal a decade ago. Reportedly, of the last fifteen arbitration cases by police officers challenging punishments, discipline was revoked in seven cases and reduced in five others, leaving only three wins for the city. Judge Henderson's unusual order apparently gives wide latitude to study every facet of the police department's investigation of officers and how the City Attorney's office prepares arbitration cases. The investigation will include a review into whether the city is getting adequate legal representation for arbitration hearings, whether it is selecting qualified expert witnesses and whether it should change the process for selecting arbitrators. It will also investigate the police department's discipline process, which officers have claimed is biased against them. See story here--