The Arkansas Supreme Court has denied a motion by the city of Jacksonville that would have temporarily reinstated the city's police chief that had been removed from his office by Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Alice Gray in June.
|JUDGE ALICE GRAY|
Judge Gray made the removal pending the outcome of a lawsuit that challenges his eligibility for the job under the state constitution.
Jacksonville filed a motion in the Arkansas Supreme Court that sought to stay Gray's ruling, claiming that "the operation of the [Police] Department is and has been thwarted" by the decision.
The state's high court denied the motion, according to a court order filed Thursday. Herweg remains banned from the position, in accordance with Gray's ruling, pending further court proceedings.
Jacksonville alderman Tara Smith filed the lawsuit that led to Herweg's temporary removal from the job. The suit claims that Herweg is ineligible to be a police chief in Arkansas under Article 5, Section 9, of the state constitution. That provision bans anyone convicted of an "infamous crime" from holding an "office of public trust."
|ALDERMAN TARA SMITH|
Arkansas courts have ruled that "infamous crimes" includes crimes of deceit, fraud or false statement.
Herweg pleaded guilty in 2002 to filing a false police report in Williamson County, Texas. The misdemeanor conviction came after he crashed a car into a house on Christmas Eve in 2000 and lied about it to police, according to court records.
Herweg had been employed by the Taylor Police Department in Texas for seven years when the crash occurred. As part of his guilty plea, he permanently surrendered his law enforcement credentials in the state.
Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher hired Herweg as police chief in April after a national search that yielded 31 candidates from 14 states. He has repeatedly defended his decision to hire Herweg.
|JACKSONVILLE MAYOR FLETCHER DEFENDS HIS DECISION TO HIRE THE "BRADY COP" HERWEG|
Fletcher said Thursday that Jacksonville plans to continue fighting the lawsuit. He is listed as a defendant along with Herweg and City Clerk and Treasurer Susan Davitt.
"We're still committed," Fletcher said. "And my city attorney -- there's a process. We're still on the right track."
Herweg has assumed an administrative role with the city since he was removed as police chief. Fletcher described the role as a mix of code enforcement and general consulting.
"I'm taking advantage of his business administration degree," Fletcher said.
Herweg cannot be paid his $81,000 salary under Gray's ruling.
Fletcher has appointed City Attorney Robert Bamburg as interim director of the Police Department.
Smith's lawsuit argues that Herweg's record of dishonesty "jeopardizes every investigation, arrest, and prosecution" involving the Police Department, "which in turn jeopardizes public safety."
Little Rock lawyer and former state Rep. Nate Steel is among the attorneys representing Smith. He said Thursday that Gray's ruling indicates a strong "likelihood of success and merit" in the case. But he does not expect the case to move quickly.
"It'll be quite some time before we have a final decision on our case," Steel said.
Check out out previous posts about Herweg: