Judge rules Police Dept. need not suggest penalty Sergeant admitted sex with informant

September 26, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

The Anne Arundel County Police Department does not have to recommend a punishment for a police sergeant who has admitted having sex with an informant and faces disciplinary action, a judge ruled Friday.

Lawyers representing Sgt. Bret K. Ballam sued high-ranking police officers last month, demanding that the department set a penalty for his violation so that he can decide whether to accept it or ask for a hearing before a trial board.

The sergeant charged that his rights were violated during the course of disciplinary action and called for all administrative charges to be dropped.

But Circuit Judge Martin A. Wolff ruled the county code "does not require the department to issue specific disciplinary recommendations prior to a hearing."

The judge ruled that "it cannot be clearer" that the law requires only a hearing, not a recommendation for punishment.

Judge Wolff also agreed with county attorneys that Sergeant Ballam's case was "baseless, frivolous and devoid of any justification under the law and serves only as a vehicle for delay."

He ordered the sergeant to pay the county $500 in legal fees.

Sergeant Ballam's trial board hearing had been delayed until Judge Wolf issued his ruling.

The officer's lawyer, Thomas A. Pavlinic, said Friday that he will appeal the case.

He said that in most jurisdictions, the police department's internal affairs section recommends a punishment, which the implicated officer can either accept or fight at a trial board.

"He wants to know what he is facing," Mr. Pavlinic said.

The county argued that it was under no obligation to do that.

"He's entitled to a trial board, but he's not entitled to any preliminary recommendations before that," said Gail Watson, an assistant county attorney.

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