City officials would not rule out an appeal of this week’s ruling that upheld a federal judge’s finding of racial discrimination by the Glendale Police Department, but Mayor Carl W. Raggio appeared ready to accept the decision.
“I want to put it to rest,” Raggio said Tuesday evening. Asst. City Atty. Scott Howard, who defended the city in the highly publicized case, said city officials may request a hearing before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals or appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but he refused further comment on the case.
The city has 90 days in which to make a decision.
“My own feeling, " Raggio said, “is if Scott Howard advises us that our chances of going with this are very minimal . . . we ought to get it quieted down and get back to work and we’re not able to while this hangs over our head,” Raggio said.
Ruling Favors Latino
A panel of three U.S. appellate judges issued a unanimous opinion Tuesday afternoon that upheld a 1986 federal finding that the department discriminated against Latino officer Ricardo L. Jauregui, who remains an officer. Jauregui, a 15-year veteran of the force was passed up for promotion seven times in favor of Anglo officers--among them an officer who has since said that he drew and circulated racially derogatory cartoons within the department.
The three-judge appeals panel also affirmed a ruling by the lower court to promote Jauregui to the position of sergeant with back pay at that rank retroactive to February, 1985.
In a written opinion authored by Judge Warren J. Ferguson, the court rejected all of Howard’s challenges to U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian’s rulings.
In a 49-page appeal Howard submitted to the panel last January, he requested the appellate panel reverse the lower court’s findings fully or reverse it and order another trial.
Howard questioned such issues as whether Tevrizian properly backed claims that Jauregui was treated differently than other officers, whether there was sufficient evidence in the record to support Jauregui’s claim of disparate treatment and whether the derogatory cartoons and flyers submitted as evidence were relevant to the promotion decision.
The appeal judges rejected an argument by the city that Jauregui had not been promoted because he lacked strong interpersonal relationship skills. The panel noted that the complaint was never included in Jauregui’s employee performance evaluations and said it rejected the city’s argument that they did not include it because it would be “poor management practice and would erode the officer’s self-esteem.”
“If this were true, performance evaluations would be worthless to the Police Department and to its officers,” Ferguson wrote. “Moreover, another officer, a white male with lower scores on the objective examinations and promoted over Officer Jauregui, had a lack of ‘interpersonal relationship’ skills recorded in his performance evaluations.”
Ferguson also wrote that it is noteworthy that despite the city’s contention that Jauregui lacked interpersonal skills, he successfully served as one of the department’s four hostage negotiators on many occasions. The judges also rejected the city’s claim that Tevrizian should have allowed Jauregui’s former wife to testify about his interpersonal skills.
“The district court refused to allow this testimony on the ground that it was irrelevant since it related to events dating far before the relevant period of the lawsuit,” Ferguson wrote. The couple divorced nine years before Jauregui filed the lawsuit.
Jauregui’s attorney, David Alkire, was not available for comment.