Judge reinstates sheriff's deputy who was fired without being told why CARROLL COUNTY

January 23, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

An Anne Arundel Circuit judge yesterday reinstated a Carroll County sheriff's deputy who was fired without cause last March after 19 years on the job.

Calling Sheriff John H. Brown's reasons for firing Sgt. Paul F. Nolte "absurd," Judge Eugene M. Lerner also ordered full back pay for the sergeant.

"That's really good news for me and my family," the sergeant said last night from his Westminster home. "Law enforcement is my field. All I want to be is a good cop, to do what I've been trained to do."

Since his firing, Sergeant Nolte, 45, has been looking for work and collecting unemployment insurance. "My wife has been working so hard," he said. "It's been hard to sleep at night."

Although he will have to reimburse the state for the nearly 10 months of unemployment insurance he has collected, his back pay should total almost $27,000, county budget office figures show.

Sergeant Nolte, who joined the department in 1972, was fired by Sheriff Brown on March 27, nearly a month after he was transferred from road patrol to a job transporting in

mates to and from the Carroll County Detention Center.

Asked for an explanation, Sheriff Brown told the sergeant that "he did not have to give a reason," the judge's ruling said.

Sergeant Nolte appealed to the Sheriff's Trial Board, which last June concurred with Sheriff Brown's decision. The sergeant appeal to Carroll Circuit Court in July. That appeal was heard Monday in Annapolis by Judge Lerner.

During the hourlong appeal, both sides pointed out that the sheriff told the trial board that the sergeant "would not adhere to the philosophy of the present administration."

Judge Lerner said such a finding, in and of itself, could be considered just cause for discharge. But Sheriff Brown fired the sergeant without giving him a reason.

"One must wonder if [Sergeant Nolte] was in fact given the 'fast shuffle,' " Judge Lerner wrote.

Sheriff Brown and his attorney, Assistant Attorney General Steven G. Hildenbrand, could not be reached for comment last night.

Judge Lerner also said the grievance process through the three-member trial board was unfair.

"[It] does not appear to be much of a full, fair hearing as required by due process of law," he said.

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