In the wrongful termination case of Owens, et al. v. City of Greenville, attorney James Radford attained an unanimous decision by the Georgia Supreme Court, reversing the trial court’s order granting the City and Mayor of Greenville, Georgia, immunity from liability.
James’ argument to the Supreme Court can be viewed in the video below.
Greenville Mayor James Bray terminated Greenville Chief of Police Daryl Williams and City Clerk Johnnie Mae Owens shortly after he was sworn into office in 2008. According to Williams’ and Owens’ judicial complaint, Bray terminated them as one of his first acts of office, without a vote by the City Council, and over the objections of a majority of the members of the City Council. Williams and Owens argued that, under the laws and regulations governing employment in Greenville, the appointment of the Chief of Police and City Clerk was up to a majority vote of the City Council, and the Mayor was without authority to terminate them on his own.
Following the Supreme Court’s order, Mr. Radford’s clients were able to negotiate a satisfactory settlement of the claims, avoiding a trial. The Owens case stands for the principal that public officials–including mayors–must abide by state and local laws when carrying out employment action. Many public servants–including police officers, teachers, and other public employees–have certain due process rights in their employment. When those rights are violated, the employer may be held accountable.
If you have suffered a legal wrong due to the unlawful act of a public official, we want to help. Please contact us today.
The full opinion of the Georgia Supreme Court is below: