Though the Sgt. Dan Harder termination hearing before the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners scheduled for last Thursday was cancelled, Harder’s defense did not take the week off.
Attorney Jeanine Stevens filed a motion Thursday objecting to testimony by Police Chief James Ryan during the Dec. 29, 2005 hearing, claiming that Ryan violated an order not to discuss testimony with other witnesses.
The board granted a motion by Harder to exclude witnesses from the hearing room and ban witnesses from discussing their testimony on Nov. 3. The order has been repeated by Board of Fire and Police Commissioners attorney Charles Hervas immediately following each witness’ testimony throughout the hearing.
During the Dec. 29 hearing, Ryan testified that he had recently spoken to Officer Marcin Scislowicz about his overtime hours on June 10. Ryan had previously testified that Harder had inconvenienced Scislowicz and others by taking sick days on that Friday and others, causing other officers to work overtime.
On Dec. 1, Scislowicz testified that he could not recall whether he was inconvenienced by having to work overtime on June 10, but acknowledged that he normally likes to work overtime as often as possible.
At the last hearing, Ryan testified that Scislowicz had told him two days before the hearing that he now recalled being inconvenienced by having to work overtime on that day, as he had planned to attend a family birthday party.
The motion accuses Ryan of ignoring Hervas’ instructions not to discuss testimony with other witnesses, and requests that Harder’s defense be allowed to question Ryan regarding conversations he had with other witnesses before he takes the stand.
Ryan’s attorney, Patrick Lucansky, said that he has been given until Jan. 17 to respond to the motion, and is waiting to receive a transcript from the hearing on Dec. 29 to determine the specifics of Ryan’s conversation with Scislowicz.
“I do intend to file a response,” said Lucansky, who declined to discuss the specifics of his strategy.
In other related news, Harder was recently granted permission to take civil action against the village of Forest Park by the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice.
If he chooses to take action against the village, Harder was given 90 days from receipt of a letter dated Dec. 14 to file suit.
Harder first applied for permission to sue from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Aug. 18, alleging a pattern of discrimination and retaliation since he and two female officers filed a sexual harassment suit in 2002.
Stevens, Harder’s attorney, said the defense will wait for the verdict in the current hearing before the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners before determining its next move.
In October, she told the Review that a civil suit against the village would likely seek lost wages, psychological and emotional damages and payment of medical bills for work related physical conditions.
Last week’s hearing, which was cancelled because Harder was sick, has been rescheduled for Feb. 2.