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City asks judge to reverse CSC in Rita Jack case

By By Suzanne Monk / managing editor
Oct. 12, 2002
The city of Meridian has asked a judge to reverse the Civil Service Commission's order to reinstate former police officer Rita Jack.
Police Chief Benny DuBose fired Jack in September 2001 after Internal Affairs investigators claimed that she had: 1) stolen money from the police station's front desk; and 2) lied during the course of the investigation.
Jack denies the accusations. She was never arrested or charged, and a Lauderdale County grand jury declined to indict her in November 2001.
Jack appealed her termination to the Meridian Civil Service Commission. A two-part hearing followed, and the CSC ultimately ordered Jack's reinstatement, with back pay retroactive to the day she was fired.
Attorney Lee Thaggard filed the city's appeal of that decision Thursday in Lauderdale County Circuit Court.
City's appeal:
Burden of proof
Thaggard's appeal focused on the second of DuBose's reasons for firing Jack that she allegedly lied during an Internal Affairs investigation. Less prominent now is the accusation that she stole money from the MPD's front desk.
However, lying to Internal Affairs investigators is also grounds for termination.
The city contends that Jack lied about how well she knew Vivian Groves, a civilian employee also accused in the thefts. DuBose's termination letter lists this and a failed polygraph examination among the reasons Jack was fired.
Thaggard argues that Jack presented no evidence to refute these points during her hearing before the CSC and that the burden of proof was on her to do so.
Jack's response
Jack said Friday that defining people's relationships with each other is subjective, and that "friend" can mean different things to different people.
Jack said a blood pressure medication she was taking, Norvasc, affected the polygraph test.
Jack said the polygraph examiner knew this, but proceeded with the test anyway. She also said she was stressed by the situation she found herself in, and fatigued after two weeks of long nights studying for an accident reconstruction class.
The next step will likely be a hearing before Circuit Judge Robert Bailey.