A Suffolk Superior Court judge today denied Police Commissioner for Two Days Dennis White's request that she block Acting Mayor Kim Janey from firing him because of a report that raised questions about two alleged domestic-violence incidents in the 1990s.
The ruling does not dismiss Dennis White's suit, but means he can only sue for "irreparable harm" after Janey formally rescinds his position as commissioner.
Judge Heidi Brieger ruled she doubts White would win his case before a jury, in part because a 1962 state law gives the mayor the right to fire top city administrators, such as police commissioner, "for cause," as long as she gives them a hearing at which to try to refute her reasons, which Janey has said she would do for White.
Brieger continued that while the law requires a hearing, it does not require that it be held according to the same rules as a court trial, so there was nothing wrong with the way Janey called White at 10 a.m. one Friday to say she'd be holding the hearing at 3 p.m. the same day. White blocked that hearing by suing Janey and asking for a temporary restraining order.
The Court declines the Commissioner's invitation to graft onto the statute a requirement that the Acting Mayor hold - or participate - in such a proceeding.
And since the law designates the mayor as the "cause-finder" in such a hearing, there's no place for a judge to step in, she concluded.
She added that she did agree with White that because he obviously has a direct personal stake in the outcome of the hearing Janey says she will hold, he has the right to make a case that he would suffer "irreparable harm" from it. But the time to make that case is only after she makes her decision - and that he will have to show that Janey did not have sufficient cause to fire him.
In a statement this afternoon, Janey said she will shortly notify White of the newly rescheduled hearing - to be held over Zoom.