Court backs earlier ruling on demotion of two police officers

June 27, 1995|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

The Court of Special Appeals let stand yesterday an Anne Arundel Circuit Court ruling that affirmed the demotions of two county police officers for having sex with informants but directed the police chief to reconsider the demotion of one of them.

The court ruled that Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner was correct June 6, 1994, when he upheld the findings of a police trial board that recommended the demotions of Bret K. Ballam and Henry A. McClung from sergeant to patrol officer.

Judge Lerner also directed the chief to re-evaluate Officer Ballam's demotion because there wasn't enough evidence to prove one of the charges against him.

The trial board found the officers violated department policy that forbids officers from socializing with informants.

Officer Ballam also was charged with drinking alcohol in a police car.

The judge had directed the chief to re-evaluate the demotion because it was partially based on that infraction.

The court said in a 58-page opinion that the officers failed to provide enough reason to reverse that finding.

"Modification or reversal of the agency's decision is only appropriate when the petitioner has demonstrated that substantial rights . . . have been actually prejudiced," the court said.

The officers' attorney, Thomas Pavlinic, said yesterday that he and the officers were "bitterly disappointed" with the decision and would appeal to the Court of Appeals.

But the decision also left open a possibility that Officer Ballam's demotion could be reversed under the section of Judger Lerner's ruling that directed the police chief to review his decision.

Mr. Pavlinic said he had asked Chief Robert Beck to reconsider Officer Ballam's demotion on the basis of Judge Lerner's decision prior to yesterday's ruling.

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