MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

May 17, 2012

Appeal of firing delayed for ex-police investigator

Merit Board continuance requested by A.J. Rudd’s attorney

It could take up to another 60 days before a former Muskogee police investigator knows his employment status.

Merit Board members granted a continuance Wednesday in the second round of A.J. Rudd’s appeal of his termination in December.

The continuance was requested by Rudd’s lawyer, Phillip Jennings of Oklahoma City.

Tulsa lawyer Thomas Mortensen, who represented Rudd during his first merit board hearing and a criminal case that was dismissed for insufficient evidence, withdrew from the case. Mortensen declined to give a reason for his withdrawal.

City Clerk Pam Bates said Jennings, who took on Rudd’s case this past week, requested a 90-day extension so he could familiarize himself with the case. Merit board members, by a 2-1 vote, granted a continuance of 60 days.

“When we set this, we need to set it for a full day,” city of Muskogee Personnel Director Michael Bates said. “We don’t want to wait until the 59th day and then have to wait another 60 days — we need to get this done.”

Rudd’s employment with the Muskogee Police Department, eight years of which he spent investigating crimes against children, was jeopardized after an alleged emotional outburst prompted the filing of criminal charges. Rudd was arrested in October after he allegedly threatened a supervisor and Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Moore. The resulting charge was dismissed for lack of evidence.

A termination notice dated Dec. 8 alleges Rudd, who was unavailable Wednesday for comment, violated four sections of the department’s policies and procedures. The notice cites insubordination, neglect of duty, unbecoming conduct and unsatisfactory performance as grounds for Rudd’s termination.

Rudd’s first attempt to overturn his termination ended in January with two representatives of the three-member panel splitting on the question of whether the employment decision was justified.

The third member, Stan Hiner, was absent throughout the proceedings, which took nearly two days to complete.

Chairman Rodney Coleman voted to uphold Rudd’s termination. Norman Grayson, who withheld his vote until after the criminal case against Rudd was dismissed, ultimately voted in favor of Rudd’s reinstatement.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot @muskogeephoenix.com.

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