CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state Supreme Court Thursday reinstated part of a lawsuit against Montgomery and its mayor by the city's former police chief, who says he was fired for refusing to retaliate against another officer.
The court's ruling partially overturned a 2012 ruling by Fayette Circuit Judge Paul Blake, who said that the city and Mayor James F. Higgins Jr. didn't have to give former police chief Jackie L. Brown II a hearing before they fired him and that the city and mayor had qualified immunity from Brown's lawsuit.
In an opinion written by Justice Brent Benjamin, the Supreme Court agreed that Brown wasn't entitled to a hearing before he was fired. But justices said the city and mayor aren't immune from Brown's lawsuit, and sent the lawsuit back to Fayette Circuit Court.
Brown was hired by the Montgomery Police Department in 2007, and named chief in 2009. In 2010, Montgomery officer James Ivy sued the city, alleging racial discrimination and violation of civil rights. The case was settled shortly after it was filed.
After that, Brown said in his lawsuit, Higgins told him to install a GPS tracking device in Ivy's police cruiser as retaliation for his discrimination lawsuit. Brown refused.
The former police chief also claims that Higgins also would order him to "do things that were not consistent with the laws of the State," and would become "enraged and verbally abusive" when Brown refused.
Higgins fired Brown on Nov. 29, 2011, according to Brown's wrongful termination lawsuit, which was filed in Fayette Circuit Court in early 2012.
Brown alleged that Higgins violated state law by asking him to retaliate against Ivy. He also claimed that he was entitled to a pre-termination hearing, which he did not get.