Fired Provincetown chief’s contracts bucked legal advice

By KC Meyers | Cape Cod Times

PROVINCETOWN — Former Town Manager Sharon Lynn went against town counsel’s advice and granted generous contracts to Police Chief Jeff Jaran in 2008 and 2011 that could end up costing the town hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a series of emails released by the Board of Selectmen.

Jaran was fired in December 2013 for urging his staff to support Selectman Austin Knight, whom he viewed as a pro-police candidate, in that year’s town election. He also instructed a lieutenant to get campaign signs from Knight’s garage so they could be distributed at the police station to his staff. An independent investigator and an arbitration panel found Jaran’s campaigning violated local, state and federal laws.

The campaigning came in the wake of a town meeting vote defeating an article that sought to replace or renovate the aging police station.

Jaran appealed the termination, and an arbitration panel found last week that he should have been suspended without pay for a year but not fired. The panel ordered the town to pay Jaran for 13 months remaining on his five-year contract, as well as a few additional months of back pay. His annual salary was about $127,000 in 2013. The town also must pay Jaran’s legal fees, which come to at least $90,000, according to his attorney, Andrew Gambaccini. The town’s own legal expenses have come to about $45,000 for the arbitration, said Dan Hoort, director of municipal finance. [Read more…]

Federal Court Rejects Claims Against Lawrence Police Chief and Captain

In November, 2010, a police officer with the Lawrence Police Department was in Lawrence District Court to support the son of the Department’s Deputy Police Chief, who had been charged with various crimes. While in the courthouse, the officer had an interaction with three civilians who were involved in the prosecution of the Deputy Chief’s son. Based upon that interaction, the three civilians complained to an Assistant District Attorney.

An investigation by the Lawrence Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police was conducted and, based upon that investigation, the police officer was charged with counts of witness intimidation and was arrested. After a grand jury elected not to indict him on the charges, the police officer sued the Lawrence Chief of Police, a Captain with the Lawrence Police Department, the City of Lawrence and members of the Massachusetts State Police. The officer alleged that his rights had been violated because he had been targeted and arrested falsely.

RJA represented the Lawrence Chief of Police and the Lawrence Captain. Through motion to dismiss paperwork, the argument was made that the officer’s claims were untimely and were insufficient as a matter of law to continue. The federal judge agreed and dismissed all claims against all of the defendants and the officer has decided not to pursue an appeal of that decision.

RESULT: Full and final dismissal of all claims.
RJA Counsel: Andrew J. Gambaccini

RJA Scores Important Victory For Law Enforcement In Constitutional Claim

Most civil rights claims against police officers in Massachusetts are made by former criminal defendants who, for one reason or another, were not found guilty of the criminal charges brought against them. Going forward, those plaintiffs will have one less claim that they can make against police officers involved in their arrest or prosecution.

RJA represented a Sergeant with the Springfield Police Department in connection with a federal civil rights claim made by a former criminal defendant who had been found not guilty of the charges brought against him by the District Attorney’s Office. Included among those claims was an allegation that the Sergeant was liable civilly because a piece of evidence, which the plaintiff claimed was exculpatory and would have been helpful in his defense, was not turned over during the criminal prosecution.

After the filing of a motion to dismiss by RJA, a federal judge in Springfield agreed with the arguments made and concluded that, as a matter of federal constitutional law, a civil rights plaintiff is not able to make a claim that he or she was wronged by a failure to turn over evidence if the plaintiff was not convicted criminally.

This authority, the first time that a federal court in Massachusetts has issued such a determination, now can be used to benefit police officers in future lawsuits and effectively has eliminated an entire category of claims that can be brought against law enforcement officials.

RJA Counsel: Andrew J. Gambaccini and John Vigliotti

Selectmen oust Saugus town manager Crabtree

By Mike Gaffney | WickedLocal

Scott Crabtree is out as Saugus town manager.

The Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 last Wednesday to adopt with good cause a final resolution for the removal of Crabtree as town manager. Selectman Debra Panetta cast the lone vote against the motion.

Crabtree had requested a public hearing in the wake of the board’s 4-1 vote Sept. 15 to support a preliminary resolution for his removal and to suspend him from his duties. But the afternoon of Oct. 29 Crabtree’s attorney Andrew Gambaccini wrote in a letter to the selectmen that he was withdrawing his request for a public hearing because “the hearing contemplated would be nothing more than a farce where the result is predetermined.”

In the letter Gambaccini outlined that Crabtree vehemently denies the content of the nine allegations Selectmen Chairman Ellen Faiella levied against him as just cause for his removal. He contended that Crabtree desires a fair process to clear his good name. [Read more…]

Andrew J. Gambaccini Named A Massachusetts “Rising Star” For The Sixth Time

The Worcester, Massachusetts law firm of Reardon, Joyce & Akerson, P.C. announces that, for the sixth time, Andrew J. Gambaccini, an associate with the firm, has been selected as a Massachusetts Rising Star by Law and Politics Media, Inc. The award follows a rigorous, multi-phased process of review and is limited to attorneys under the age of forty who have been members of the bar for less than ten years and who already have distinguished themselves in the practice of law. No more than 2.5% of the attorneys in the state are given this award, recognition for which is published annually in Massachusetts Super Lawyers Rising Stars Edition and in Boston magazine.

Webster sergeant fights for job over injury to police dog

By Brian Lee | Telegram

WEBSTER — A hearing during which Police Sgt. Joseph Brooks was accused of striking and injuring a police dog with his vehicle on June 4 wrapped up Wednesday at Town Hall.

The 14-year veteran of the department is on paid leave and is fighting for his job amid two theories about what happened to the Dutch shepherd, named Radar, just out of view of a police surveillance camera on Memorial Beach Drive.

The reports by a Heights vet show that the town’s allegation is based on an investigation headed by private investigator Michael Pavone, a retired state police detective lieutenant.

Soon after the accident, police told the press and wrote on social media that the dog had escaped Officer Aaron Suss’ SUV before the injury. The officer is the dog’s handler.

Radar is about 95 percent healed from his injuries, but is not back in service, police say.

Sgt. Brooks, meanwhile, is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the civil service hearing, for which Town Administrator John F. McAuliffe appointed Joseph Zeneski, the retired Oxford town manager, as hearing officer. [Read more…]

Former Provincetown MA police chief to challenge firing

by KC Myers

PROVINCETOWN — Former Police Chief Jeff Jaran says he will fight his termination last year by the town at an arbitration hearing Oct. 30.

The selectmen fired Jaran, Provincetown’s police chief for about five years, in December after months of controversy related to his alleged angry outburst at The Squealing Pig pub after an N.W.A. rap song containing anti-police lyrics played on the sound system.

Some members of the public complained that Jaran intimidated customers and employees at the pub. Also, the police union accused him of campaigning inside the police station and using his authority to get officers to vote for Selectman Austin Knight in the May election.

The selectmen hired an independent investigator, Frank Rudewicz of Marcum LLP, to look into the union’s complaints as well as the incident at The Squealing Pig. [Read more…]

Educator’s modeling photos example of legal, moral gray area for employers

by Paula J. Owen – published in Telegram & Gazette

FITCHBURG — Racy photos, sexually graphic blogs and sexually provocative posts on social media sites can be used against you by your employer.

Teachers nationwide have been fired for salacious Facebook postings, online photos and even for modeling for bikini photos. Though it’s not criminal behavior by any means, their actions while off duty were deemed “immoral” by some school districts and determined to have an adverse impact on the school or their ability to teach.

Teachers have also had disciplinary action taken against them for character flaws and have been terminated under various state laws for incompetency, insubordination, neglect of duty, sufficient cause, conduct unbecoming and immorality.

You may read the entire article here: Telegram & Gazette

[Read more…]

RJA Prevails In Disciplinary Case Involving Springfield MA Police Sergeant

Recently, RJA was retained by a Sergeant with the Springfield Police Department  to represent him in a civil service disciplinary hearing.  The Sergeant was alleged to have made racially insensitive remarks to and about a police officer, resulting in the officer filing a complaint with the City.  During the course of the hearing, RJA Attorney Andrew Gambaccini carried out a particularly bruising cross examination of the complainant, highlighting changes in the complainant’s story over time and painting the picture of an individual who had concocted allegations against the Sergeant in order to avoid scrutiny and discipline for his own behavior.  In no small measure because of the savaging of the complainant during his testimony, the Sergeant was exonerated of wrongdoing by the hearing officer.

RESULT:  Exoneration of RJA’s client by the hearing officer.

RJA Counsel:  Andrew J. Gambaccini

Massachusetts State Troopers Win Judgment in Federal Civil Rights Action

Massachusetts State Troopers Win Judgment in Federal Civil Rights Action Arising Out of Their Response to White Power Demonstration

A federal jury returned a verdict in favor of two Massachusetts State Police troopers in a federal civil rights cases arising out of their response to a demonstration by a white power activist who participated in a demonstration outside the State House on White Pride Day in March of 2010.  The suit claimed that the troopers detained and searched the activist without probable cause in violation of his constitutional rights and that they improperly seized a pepper spray container and a spring activated knife.  He also claimed that they violated his First Amendment freedom of speech rights by detaining him and searching him because they did not like his support of white power.  Two other troopers that were originally defendants in the case obtained their dismissal just before the start of the trial.  Attorney Austin Joyce of Reardon, Joyce & Akerson, P.C. represented the four troopers in the lawsuit.  After hearing several days of testimony, the jury found that the troopers did not violate the plaintiff’s constitutional rights, and the court entered judgment for the troopers.  Two State Police sergeants who were also defendants in the case also won judgments in their favor from the jury.