WA Legal Roundup: Division III
Martin was a Steven’s County Sheriff’s Officer who was investigated for an allegation of untruthfulness in regards to the facts surrounding his charging a defendant with Driving Without a License. The investigation was conducted by Captain George who discharged his official duties when interviewing Martin. The facts imply that Martin lied to George about what happened and Martin subsequently resigned from his position while the investigation was pending. If Martin had not resigned, he would have been terminated. The Sheriff’s Office notified the Criminal Justice Training Commission that Martin had been terminated.
Martin held a peace officer certificate from the Criminal Justice Training Commission. The Commission sought to revoke Martin’s certificate based on his discharge for disqualifying conduct (making a false or misleading statement to a public servant). Martin requested a hearing and the Commission concluded at the hearing that Martin had been discharged for disqualifying misconduct pursuant to RCW 43.101.010(7)(b). Martin appealed to the Superior Court, where the case was reversed and remanded for a new hearing. The Commission appealed that ruling.
To reverse an administrative order, a reviewing court must find that the order: (1) is based on an error of law; (2) is based on findings not supported by substantial evidence; (3) is arbitrary or capricious; (4) violates the constitution; (5) is beyond the statutory authority; or (6) the agency has engaged in an unlawful procedure or decision making process or has failed to follow a prescribed procedure. (Now that brought back memories of the Bar review!) Martin claimed that there was an error of law in that the Commission’s hearing panel did not include two members of a tribe (Martin was a tribal officer). However, Martin did not object to the make up of the hearing panel at the time of the hearing. He also claimed that he did receive a fair hearing because he was not granted a continuance.
Martin’s first issue was that the Commission’s panel was prejudicial to him because there were no tribe members. Martin was also a tribal officer. However, the statute in affect at the time Martin appealed the Commission’s order, RCW 43.101.380, did NOT require the presence of tribal members on the panel.
Martin also claimed that the Commission’s refusal to grant him a continuance of the hearing violated his due process rights. Martin moved for a continuance because one of his witnesses was not available. However, this same witness testified telephonically. Division III held that the Commission did not abuse its discretion nor did it act in an arbitrary or capricious manner when denying the continuance.
Peace officer no more.