Court Upholds Termination of Northfield Policeman

CONCORD, NH — Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell, PC, in Concord, New Hampshire, has successfully defended the town of Northfield in a bench trial involving a policeman’s suspension and termination.

Brian Brown was a police officer in the town of Northfield, New Hampshire, when the board of selectmen terminated him for persistent unacceptable behavior, including insubordination, neglect of duty (continuing a high speed pursuit across town line and unfamiliar dirt road, resulting in damage to cruiser), misuse of town resources (cruiser) for personal use, all resulting in unnecessary risk to the residents of the town. Under New Hampshire law, a police officer must first be given a hearing at the board of selectmen before he can be terminated. The town did this, but first suspended him without pay pending the appeal. Despite presenting numerous witnesses, many exhibits, and having the opportunity to cross-examine the town’s witness, Brown claimed he was denied due process by the suspension without pay and at the hearing.

The review on appeal is typically limited to reviewing the transcript from the board hearing. However, the Merrimack County Superior Court held a full bench trial. The court agreed with the town that there was good cause to terminate Brown because of his performance history and that the town did not violate his due process rights or the state right-to-know laws by meeting to discuss his situation and voting to suspend him first, giving him notice. The court ruled that the full hearing before the board satisfied the town’s statutory obligations.

Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell is a leading business and litigation law firm located in Concord, New Hampshire.

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