Santa Fe files suit against police officer

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau May 21, 2012, 6:27pm

GALVESTON - The city of Santa Fe has filed suit against one of its police officers after an act of discipline against him was reversed, recent court documents say.

A lawsuit targeting Eric Bruss, filed May 14 in Galveston County District Court, argues that Pedro G. Molina Jr., a third-party hearing examiner, exceeded his jurisdiction when he overturned Santa Fe Police Chief Kenneth Campbell's disciplinary decision against Bruss.

The plaintiff placed Bruss on a three-day temporary suspension in October 2011 in response to his failure to follow the force's felony warrant policy in regards to pre-warrant briefing and preparation.

Bruss subsequently submitted a formal appeal which was heard and deliberated by Molina, who is not a party to the suit, in accordance to the Santa Fe Police Department's collective bargaining agreement.

The parties and the hearing examiner met to discuss Bruss's suspension last March 7 with the matter closed the same day.

According to the city, the respondent "raised no procedural objection at the commencement of the hearing nor any time prior to his closing brief."

Molina delivered his findings at the end of last month, ruling the city violated an article of the CBA when it temporarily suspended Bruss by not providing him a copy of a witness complaint before meting out punishment.

The complainant contends that "there is no such requirement under state law or the CBA and there is certainly no requirement commanding such a drastic result in the event it occurred."

"The hearing examiner herein exceeded his jurisdiction by rendering a decision based upon an inapplicable CBA provision and by ordering an unauthorized default reversal of a legal disciplinary action," the suit says.

"A hearing examiner exceeds this jurisdiction, and acts unlawfully, when issuing a decision that is not authorized by law or is contrary to it."

Consequently, the plaintiff requests that Molina's ruling be reversed.

Attorney Brian J. Begle of Houston is representing the city.

Galveston County 212th District Court Judge Susan Criss is presiding over the case.

Case No. 12-cv-1216

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