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Lysaght Says His TerminationHearing Should Be Open



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Lysaght Says His Termination

Hearing Should Be Open

By Andrew Gorosko

The job termination hearing of Police Chief James E. Lysaght, Jr apparently will be open to the public when it convenes December 13 in New Haven.

“I believe that the meeting should be open,” Chief Lysaght said Wednesday, adding he has always maintained the hearing should be open to the public.

Town Attorney David Zabel, who will present the Police Commission’s case against Chief Lysaght at the hearing, said Wednesday, “As far as I’m concerned, it’s open to the public, until someone tells me differently.”

 Albert Murphy, the arbitrator who will preside at the hearing, has said he normally leaves it up to the parties in the case as to whether the sessions will be public or closed.

Frederick Dorsey, an attorney who is advising the Police Commission, said Wednesday, “The town will not press to have… a closed hearing.”  Whether the hearing is open or closed basically will be the decision of the police chief, Mr Dorsey said.

Mr Dorsey said he has informed Police Commission members not to attend the hearing unless they are testifying as a witness. Commission members will have to rely on the arbitrator’s findings of fact in deciding whether to terminate the chief, Mr Dorsey said. The commission members’ deliberations in the case might be tainted if they were to consider information which they incidentally heard at the hearing, so it is better that they not attend unless they are testifying, Mr Dorsey said.

 Mr Murphy, an attorney, will issue findings of fact based on testimony presented at the hearing. Those findings of fact may be issued by late February, Mr Dorsey said. There may be hundreds of “facts” stated in the document to be produced by Mr Murphy, Mr Dorsey said.

The Police Commission will review the findings of fact in making its decision on whether to terminate the chief, but the commission will not be bound by any possible recommendations made by Mr Murphy. A  job termination would be subject to appeal in Danbury Superior Court.

 Mr Zabel said it would be more convenient if the termination hearing is held in Newtown instead of New Haven. Although it would make sense to have the hearing in Newtown, it would not make sense to shift the hearing here if it meant that the hearing would be delayed by such a change of venue, he said. Lawyers for the town and the chief began the preliminaries of a termination hearing last August. 

First Selectman Herbert Rosenthal said of the upcoming termination hearing, “If it’s going to be public, I prefer it to be held in Newtown.”

The specifics of conducting the hearing are ultimately left up to the arbitrator and the lawyers representing the town and Chief Lysaght, Mr Rosenthal said.

The hearing was scheduled for New Haven as a matter of travel convenience for lawyers involved in the case, according to Mr Dorsey. The lawyers and the arbitrator are scheduled to have a telephone conference call next week to discuss procedural matters for the hearing, he said.

The termination hearing is scheduled December 13, 17, 20 and 22 at the Omni Hotel at 155 Temple Street in downtown New Haven.

Having concluded that Chief Lysaght’s job performance is unacceptable, and that he has not shown the leadership or management skills needed to effectively run the police department, the Police Commission is pursuing his termination.

Attorney John Kelly, representing the chief, has responded that the Police Commission’s complaints amount to “philosophical differences” over how to run a police department, adding that the chief has become the victim of “petty politics.”

Following the issuance of a highly negative job performance evaluation last April, the Police Commission last July placed the chief on administrative leave with full pay and benefits until the job termination proceeding is resolved. Police Captain Michael Kehoe is running the police department in Chief Lysaght’s absence.

Every night, wasps bite into the stem of a plant, lock their mandibles (jaws) into position, stretch out at right angles to the stem, and, with legs dangling, fall asleep.

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