CHARLESTON – Logan Police Chief David White did not write a list of reasons why patrolman Mark Dickerson flunked probation.
But when Dickerson took the case to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, he got a list from the mayor.
The list came too late, the Court unanimously decided Nov. 29. The Justices reinstated Dickerson with almost a half year of back pay.
They ruled that Logan can try again to discharge Dickerson, but they prescribed a stronger dose of due process.
The city hired Dickerson in November 2005 on a probationary basis.
White fired him last July 5.
Dickerson on July 26 petitioned the Justices for a writ of mandamus that would grant him a hearing at the police civil service commission.
He took his case directly to the Supreme Court of Appeals because he claimed the city violated his constitutional right of due process.
Article 3, section 10 of the West Virginia Constitution provides that, "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, and the judgment of his peers."
The Justices on Sept. 7 asked the city why Dickerson should not have a hearing.
Logan answered Oct. 10 with a copy of a letter from Mayor Claude Ellis to Dickerson.
Ellis wrote that Dickerson threatened citizens, used abusive and profane words, wrecked a cruiser, engaged in personal matters and left town once for personal reasons.
Dickerson's attorney, Roger Forman of Charleston, contested the accusations.
The Justices ignored the exchange. They left it to the police civil service commission to investigate the charges.
They quoted state law that a city may not discharge, suspend or demote a member of a police department member expect for just cause "... and in no event until the member has been furnished with a written statement of the reasons for the action."
A footnote defines member as "any individual employed in a paid police department who is clothed with the police power of the State in being authorized to carry deadly weapons, make arrests, enforce traffic or other municipal ordinances, issue summons for violations of traffic and other municipal ordinances, and perform other duties which are within the scope of active, general law enforcement."