DES MOINES — The city’s appeal of a verdict rejecting the discipline and firing a former police officer went before the Iowa Court of Appeals on Thursday, one of two area cases on the day’s docket.
Sgt. Mark Milligan was fired after an internal investigation concluded he had given false testimony about an arrest. The Employment Appeal Board upheld a decision giving Milligan unemployment benefits in August 2017.
A year later, Judge Shawn Showers found that the investigation that led to Milligan’s firing was “harsh AND arbitrary,” and driven in large part by hostility from Chief Tom McAndrew. Showers ordered Milligan’s reinstatement, dated to April 20, 2017. That meant the city was responsible for back pay to that date.
A major part of Milligan’s claim is that the actions against him were in part because he had sued the city over the RedSpeed traffic camera records. The city refused to release those records, saying they were not public. The district court ruled against the city, and the Iowa Supreme Court heard the case last month.
The final briefs filed in this case restated the basic arguments. Milligan’s attorney wrote that the investigation “was arbitrary from the beginning and retaliation for Sgt. Milligan’s multiple ongoing lawsuits involving the City of Ottumwa and Chief McAndrews [sic].” The city contended Showers “applied the wrong standard of review” and failed to give proper weight to the city’s civil service commission.
“Because the district court’s decision directly resulted from an improper standard of review, the decision must be reversed,” the city argued.
The court was also scheduled to hear an appeal by a Jefferson County woman convicted of possessing marijuana and methamphetamine.
Both cases were scheduled to be heard by a three-judge panel from the appeals court. Judges Thomas Bower, David May and Sharon Soorholtz-Greer were assigned to the panel. Their decision will be announced at a later date.