Crown Point needs more legal help for upcoming hearing
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent February 27, 2013 12:46PM
Updated: March 2, 2013 8:19PM
CROWN POINT — City officials will hire a second outside attorney and a court reporter to assist in the March 11 disciplinary hearing of one of its police officers.
The Board of Public Works and Safety on Wednesday authorized city attorney David Nicholls to hire the additional help after he said the first outside attorney was having difficulty managing the volume of work during the discovery process along with maintaining his existing private practice caseload.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Nicholls said.
Nicholls said due to the short time before the March 11 hearing for Sgt. James Poling and the statutory requirements to meet the discovery requests of Poling’s attorney, the additional help is needed. Multiple city departments are involved in providing information that has been requested during the discovery process.
In February, the Boad of Works suspended Poling with pay and benefits pending termination. Poling is accused of a litany of violations of the police pursuit policy, conduct policy and the city’s employee handbook stemming from a May 2012 high-speed chase.
Following the chase in a deal allegedly brokered with the city and Police Department, Poling was assigned to the 911 department, his vehicle was taken away and he was prohibited from working any outside security type jobs pending his expected April 2013 retirement.
Poling, through his attorney Christopher Cooper, has filed suit against the city alleging he was forced to retire due to his stance in the capacity of the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 176 against the appointment of Randall Palmateer to the Board of Works.
Poling, as FOP president, wrote a letter to Mayor David Uran opposing the appointment following the drunken driving arrest of Palmateer and an incident where Palmateer allegedly pointed a weapon at an on-duty police officer. In the letter Poling objected to Palmateer’s appointment to the board, which oversees police operations.
Cooper has said while his client is participating in the March 11 hearing, the city’s opportunity to act upon the report of the chase has expired. Cooper said that hearing should have taken place 30 days after the report was filed and Poling originally requested the hearing, which would have been in October 2012.
Nicholls said the city has already hired Arlington J. Foley of Crown Point to represent the city in the matter. He is in negotiations with another attorney to assist Foley.
The court reporter will be needed to record the hearing, which will begin March 11.