Judge Everett Krueger will preside over a court hearing Thursday morning about whether to allow a disciplinary hearing for suspended Liberty Township Fire Chief Tim Jensen to go forward.
Paul Bittner, Jensen’s attorney, filed for a stay in Delaware County Common Pleas Court last week in connection with a planned disciplinary hearing on misconduct charges against Jensen as fire chief. Township trustees would preside over the disciplinary hearing.
“We hope to get a decision for some clarity on the motion of appeal,” Bittner said about the Thursday hearing. “Hopefully we’ll get some direction.”
Bittner is asking Krueger to dismiss the charges against Jensen and has now asked the court to stop the disciplinary hearing from proceeding until there is ruling on the appeal.
Attorneys for township trustees have asked to hear from witnesses Thursday, Bittner said. “I don’t know if there will be time for witnesses,” he said. “It depends on the docket.”
Bittner said last Friday that he and the township’s attorneys, Edward Kim and David A. Riepenhoff, have agreed to move the trustees’ disciplinary hearing date back to Aug. 8-9 to allow enough time for a court ruling on the stay. The disciplinary hearing had been scheduled for mid-July.
“Does the hearing go forward while waiting on the appeal?” Bittner said. “It’s an attempt to get clarification from the court.”
Bittner alleges Jensen will not get a fair hearing from trustees. “Chief Jensen is concerned about bias against him,” Bittner told The Gazette earlier. “Based upon their conduct this far, I doubt the trustees will be fair.”
Jensen was placed on paid administrative leave March 1 by township administrator Matt Huffman.
Trustees officially charged Jensen on May 16, alleging misconduct in office and gross neglect of duty, based on an investigation report prepared by Cincinnati attorney Douglas Duckett.
In total, township taxpayers have paid about $84,856 so far in connection with the investigation of Jensen.
Trustees hired attorney Kim to represent them in the matter, instead of seeking legal assistance from the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.