Tulsa Firefighter Denied Trial Before City Council

Thursday, December 6th 2012, 10:19 pm
By: News On 6

The City Council decided Thursday not to act as judge in jury in a Tulsa firefighter's grievance hearing.

Ray Driskell was appointed fire chief for the city of Tulsa on May 2.

That decision eventually led to Jeremy Moore, waiting in a City Hall conference room, seven months later, while Tulsa's City Council decided if they should hear his case.

David Patrick is the Council chair.

"I'm really uncomfortable. This is something that has never happened before and, like I say, I'm no lawyer," Patrick said.

So why does Moore want a trial before City Council?

His job title recently changed from Administrative Chief to District Chief, and it was a demotion that, he says, was without merit.

All city employees are entitled to a grievance hearing over employment, but firefighters are the only ones who can ask for it to be held in the same format as a trial in front of the city council.

It's right there in the city charter: "Any person against whom written charges are filed, requesting removal, suspension, demotion, or discharge may within 10 days...demand for an open trial before Council."

The city charter requires a trial only if the employee received written notice of what "charges" lead to his demotion. The city's attorneys claim that Moore was never given written notice, which makes him ineligible.

"This is a very unique position for the City Council. They are what I would consider a quasi-judiciary in this capacity," said Moore's attorney, Joel LaCourse.

Since the charter was written in 1990, there's only been one other case, but the firefighter missed the filing deadline and it was thrown out.

"It's so unprecedented that we didn't even have, as of Monday, a format for how we would carry out a trial, and it had to be developed over the course of a week. So this is all new terrain," said Council GT Bynum.

Moore can still file a lawsuit in district court.