Showing posts with label police corruption. Show all posts
Showing posts with label police corruption. Show all posts

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Judge Affirms Somerset Deputy's Firing

SALISBURY -- A former Somerset deputy who filed a civil lawsuit stating he was wrongfully terminated lost his most recent court battle when a judge affirmed the sheriff's decision.

If James Troy Durham, a 42-year-old Pocomoke City resident, does not appeal the Circuit Court judge's decision, this could mean the end of his law enforcement career.

"I have a right to appeal this decision in the Maryland Special Court of Appeals," Durham said. "I thank God for blessing me with a great 20-year career and I thank my family, friends and the community that I served for all of their love and support they provided me through this."

The former sheriff's deputy has been fighting a legal battle for almost two years since filing a grievance against the Sheriff's Office in September 2008. The grievance alleged internal corruption and accused co-workers of forcing him to change a police report.

Five days after filing the grievance with the County Commissioners, Durham was placed on administrative leave and eventually terminated.

Durham alleged the sheriff, Robert "Bobby" N. Jones, fired him in a retaliatory move for the grievance he filed against the Sheriff's Office.

But in the court order ruling on the civil lawsuit, the judge was not persuaded to support Durham's claims.

"There is no evidence that retaliation by Sheriff Jones played any part in (Durham's)termination," wrote Judge W. Newton Jackson III, a visiting Circuit Court judge from Wicomico County, in his opinion dated July 13. "At best, it is speculation."

Durham said he was shedding light on police corruption by filing the grievance and circulating it among other agencies in an attempt to solicit help. But a police hearing board found him guilty of disseminating departmental information and engaging in unbecoming conduct after Durham sent a copy of his grievance to outside agencies -- including the Maryland Attorney General's Office, Maryland State Police, local media and a U.S. senator from Virginia -- according to a copy of the hearing board report obtained by The Daily Times.

Durham said he only disseminated information outside the agency after he was told the grievance he filed against Jones would be investigated by Jones.

The police board convened a two-day hearing July 16 and recommended a five-day suspension for disseminating department information and another five days for unbecoming conduct, according to a report on the hearing proceedings.

The sheriff deviated from the board's recommendations and terminated Durham for reasons stated in a hearing Sept. 16.

According to transcripts from the September hearing, Jones said Durham undermined the public's trust and hampered the Sheriff's Office's ability to protect the public when he distributed copies of the grievance.

Durham is accepting donations to help cover the cost of a court appeal and may be contacted at 1235 Cedar Hall Road, Pocomoke City, Md. 21851 or 443-614-8965.