Court to hear former city police chief's lawsuit

October 20, 2006|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN REPORTER

The state's highest court agreed this week to hear the lawsuit filed by a former Baltimore police commissioner who claimed that he was wrongfully terminated by the mayor nearly two years ago.

The lawsuit was filed by Kevin P. Clark, a top police commander in New York City who was recruited to run Baltimore's Police Department in 2003.

A city Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of the city's right to terminate Clark based on terms in his contract.

But a Court of Special Appeals judge in June reinstated the lawsuit, saying the earlier judge erred in ruling that the termination provision in Clark's contract was "valid and enforceable."

The city petitioned the Court of Appeals to review the lawsuit.

Mayor Martin O'Malley removed Clark from office after saying that allegations of domestic abuse had eroded his ability to lead the department.

Neil M. Janey Sr., Clark's attorney, said the former commissioner wants his job back, as well as back pay and compensatory damages for "the embarrassment and humiliation for the manner he was removed from office."

He said oral arguments are expected to take place early next year. Ralph S. Tyler, Baltimore's city solicitor, said he believed the city would prevail in the case.

"We have always believed, and continue to believe, when Kevin Clark entered into this contract, he agreed to this term," Tyler said. "The term is valid, and we're optimistic that that will be the ultimate determination in the case."

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