Hearing examiner authorized to reinstate officer after City failed to provide proper notice of suspension

City of Del Rio v. Daniel Jalomos, 04-14-00381-CV (Tex. App. – San Antonio, April 22, 2015)( mem. Op.)

This is a civil service case where the Fourth Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a suit filed by the City seeking judicial review of a hearing examiner’s decision.

Jalomos was a police officer for the City of Del Rio. After a complaint was filed against Jalomos the police chief suspended him indefinitely. Jalomos appealed and elected to have his appeal heard by a hearing examiner. After an evidentiary hearing the hearing examiner ruled for Jalomos reinstating him. The City filed suit to overturn the hearing examiner’s decision, but Jalomos filed a plea to the jurisdiction which the trial court granted.

Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code §143.052 states upon suspending an officer, the department head shall, within 120 hours (5 days) file with the commission a written statement giving the reasons for the suspension and deliver a copy to the person suspended. The City waited 360 hours and failed to provide Jalomos the same notice.  The “crux of the City’s argument is that the Act did not authorize the hearing examiner to reinstate Jalomos based solely on the procedural failures.” The court determined that §143.052 requires the department head to describe the acts which were in violation of policy and provide a copy to the suspended employee, not simply the commission. Because the statement given to Jalomos failed to comply with subsection 143.052(e), the hearing examiner was required to reinstate Jalomos under section 143.052(f). The hearing examiner heard evidence for two days, then issued a sixteen-page decision in which he provided a thorough analysis of the law and the evidence.  The hearing examiner’s actions were expressly authorized and therefore he did not exceed his authority by holding for Jalomos.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel: Chief Justice Marion, Justice Angelini and Justice Barnard.  Memorandum Opinion by Justice Angelini.  The attorney listed for the City is Susanne West. The attorneys listed for Jalomos are Karl Brehm, Manuel Quinto-Pozos, and B. Craig Deats