Judge upholds ruling reinstating Solomon as chief

By Bill Kirk | Eagle Tribune

A Superior Court judge denied the city’s appeal of a Civil Service Commission ruling which reinstated Joseph Solomon as police chief.

Lawrence Superior Court Judge Robert Cornetta issued his ruling Thursday afternoon in which he said the city had not proven its case that the commission made errors in its original ruling and had overstepped its authority.

It is not known if the city plans to appeal Cornetta’s ruling. City Solicitor Peter McQuillan said yesterday that he had not received any official notification of the ruling from the court.

Mayor Steven Zanni’s office said the mayor didn’t know anything about the ruling either.

But several city councilors said they had read about the decision online and that everyone in the city was talking about it. City Council Chairman Jennifer Kannan said she had heard about the ruling but was reserving comment until she heard from the city solicitor and was able to review the language in the ruling herself.

Manzi fired Solomon in May 2008, claiming the chief verbally abused officers, misspent federal grant money and broke state law by using taxpayer money to buy marine equipment from his sister and brother-in-law.

Solomon appealed his firing with the Civil Service Commission, which reduced the punishment to a one-year suspension and ordered Solomon reinstated as police chief in 2010. The city challenged that Civil Service ruling. A hearing was held in May of this year before Cornetta during which both sides argued their cases.

McQuillan said during the May hearing that the commission “simply missed the boat,” and asked Cornetta to overturn the decision and reinstate Solomon’s firing. “There are significant mistakes and omissions here,” McQuillan argued.

But Solomon’s attorney, Andrew Gambaccini, argued that the Civil Service Commission’s ruling was “bullet-proof” and that the city’s appeal was a waste of time.

Cornetta, in his ruling, clearly agreed. He rejected every argument made by the city as to why the Civil Service Commission ruling should be overturned.

Gambaccini, in a press release issued yesterday afternoon, cheered the judge’s ruling and its “rejection of each and every one of those arguments in the most authoritative way possible.” He noted that the “utter pointlessness of the city’s challenge” was exposed again. He added that the city’s appeal was “riddled with glaring and significant errors” and that the city’s appeal “was and is legally lifeless.”

He went on to say that the city’s “plot to terminate” Solomon was “poorly conceived, poorly constructed, (and) has been poorly executed.”