CITY HALL — The City Council is not expected to appeal a Superior Court judge’s ruling last week upholding a 2007 Civil Service Commission’s decision to reinstate a Glendale police officer after he was fired for viewing Internet porn on city computers, city officials said.
City attorneys who briefed the City Council on the ruling in closed session on Tuesday were not directed to file an appeal before the 60-day deadline, Senior Assistant Atty. Michael Garcia said.
While that could still change at a later date, Mayor John Drayman verified that the general consensus among city officials was that an appeal would likely not be filed.
In 2005, the Police Department, still reeling from an expensive sexual harassment lawsuit a year earlier, pressed to have Glendale Police Officer Brian Duncan fired for viewing pornography at work on a city computer.
But the Civil Service Commission reinstated Duncan two years later with a demotion and pay cut after determining in a 3-2 vote that the city’s case was flawed.
Since the City Council has no direct authority to overrule the Civil Service Commission, a quasi-independent board that oversees employee disciplinary hearings, it appealed the decision in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The court last week upheld Duncan’s reinstatement, city attorneys said, but sent the matter of determining the level of his back pay between 2005 and 2007 to the Civil Service Commission for further review.
Some commissioners have joined the city’s police union in asserting that the City Council’s decision to appeal the case to Superior Court was politically motivated, but Drayman refuted that, arguing that in light of the city’s $4-million sexual harassment payout in 2004, it was prudent for the city to bring in an “uninvolved third party.”
In that case, Glendale police Officer Renae Kerner and former officers Jamie Franke and Katie Frieders settled with the city for $4 million after a drawn-out trial in which the women alleged they were unfairly treated when they reported the sexual harassment.
Internet and video porn factored in to the case several times throughout the 2003 trial.
With the issue coming up again in Duncan’s case, the city wanted to make it clear that the issue had been pursued seriously and diligently, Drayman said.
“Glendale got taken to the wood shed in the Frieders case,” he said. “To me, it’s about making it clear, putting it on the record that his case was something the city took note of and pursued every avenue possible.”
The Civil Service Commission is tentatively scheduled to take up the issue of Duncan’s back pay in a closed hearing on July 23.
Just two of the original five commissioners remain since the original Duncan hearings: Commissioner John Gantus, who voted against Duncan’s reinstatement, and Chairman Albert Abkarian, who voted for it.
Gantus would not comment on the court’s ruling, or how the new makeup of the commission may affect Duncan’s prospects this time around, saying that “as long as the case is still in front of us, it would be inappropriate for us to comment.”
JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at email@example.com.