Posted: Monday, June 16th 2014 at 9:48am
SCOGA rules against fired Forsyth Co. deputies
ATLANTA - The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled against 11 law enforcement officers who were fired last year by Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper. The officers appealed to the high court after a superior court denied their petition to force a hearing of their case by the Forsyth County Civil Service Board.
In a Monday ruling, the high court said it dismissed the officers' appeal because they failed to follow the correct procedure in filing it.
The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office terminated Lieutenant Lisa Frady Selke, four captains, four other lieutenants and two sergeants as part of a "reduction in force," according to a statement from FCSO, but the officer claimed they were fired because of political retaliation and age discrimination.
According to the ruling from the high court, the officers attempted to appeal their termination to Sheriff Piper, but he told them he lacked authority to grant an appeal because layoffs were not appealable. They then tried to appeal to Patricia Carson, the Forsyth County Personnel Services Director, and requested their appeals be forwarded to the Forsyth County Civil Service Board.
In March 2013, Carson denied their request to appeal and to send their appeals to the Civil Service Board, also stating that a layoff is not appealable under the Forsyth County Civil Service Handbook and policies. Selke and the others then filed a petition in Forsyth County Superior Court to force Carson to forward their appeals to the Civil Service Board.
Following a hearing in July, Superior Court Judge G. Grant Brantley granted the County’s motion to dismiss the law enforcement officers' appeals. Selke and the other officers then filed a direct appeal with the Georgia Supreme Court. Attorneys for Carson, the Civil Service Board and the County filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, arguing the officers improperly filed a direct – or automatic – appeal with the state Supreme Court when they were required under the law to ask permission to appeal under the discretionary appeal procedures.
Chief Justice Thompson wrote for the Court in Monday's unanimous decision, saying that the Court agreed with Forsyth County.
“Generally speaking, judgments or orders granting or refusing to grant mandamus are appealable directly. However, Official Code of Georgia § 5-6-35 (a) (1) requires an appellant to file an application for a discretionary appeal from a decision of a superior court reviewing the decision of a state or local administrative agency.
“In this case, Carson, the Personnel Services Director, made an administrative department decision refusing to forward appellants’ appeals to the Civil Service Board. Because Carson’s decision was reviewed by the superior court, it was incumbent upon appellants to proceed by discretionary appeal.”
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