Lawyers' memo opposes Clark's reinstatement

May 28, 2008|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN REPORTER

City lawyers filed a memo yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court opposing the reinstatement of former police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark, who wants his old job back.

Clark, who was fired by then-Mayor Martin O'Malley in 2004, filed a legal memo this month seeking reinstatement after the state's highest court upheld a ruling saying the city erred in the dismissal.

Sterling Clifford, a spokesman for the mayor and the Police Department, said yesterday's action states the city's opposition to Clark's return.

"The crux of city's position is that the city is best served through a settlement with former Commissioner Clark," Clifford said. "The mayor and the city are both doing well with the commissioner we have. Kevin Clark has suggested that he expected to be reinstated. And that's not a workable action for the city."

A. Dwight Pettit, one of Clark's attorneys, called the city's action a delaying tactic. "It's something I don't understand. The court has ruled that he was illegally fired. They're trying to argue that [point] again."

The Court of Appeals ruled in March that mayors may fire commissioners only under certain circumstances. O'Malley fired Clark after allegations resulting from a domestic dispute with his fiancee. The allegations were later determined to be unfounded.

O'Malley hired Clark in February 2003, and the former commissioner signed a contract stipulating that the city could fire him for any reason. After allegations surfaced about the dispute with Clark's fiancee, O'Malley said the issue had become a distraction and fired him.

Clark argued that the provision of the contract was invalid because state law says the police commissioner may be fired only for "official misconduct, malfeasance, inefficiency or incompetency, including prolonged illness." A Circuit Court ruled for the city, but the Court of Special Appeals reversed the decision.

The former commissioner had sought reinstatement and $120 million in his original suit. City officials have said Clark is unlikely to return to his job because his term would have expired next month.

Pettit said the compensation hearing is set for January.

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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