Mistake By Officer’s Attorney As To Hearing Date Voids Due Process Claim

Daniel Arredondo was a police officer with the City of Billings, Montana. Arredondo was the subject of complaints by nine women, eight of whom alleged that he had behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner toward them while acting in his official capacity.

The City scheduled a pre-disciplinary due process hearing on September 27, 1995. Neither Arredondo nor his attorney appeared at the hearing. The City subsequently terminated Arredondo.

Arredondo appealed his termination to the Montana Supreme Court, contending that his attorney mistakenly believed that the due process hearing had been postponed. The Court was unimpressed with the argument, observing that Arredondo had “received straightforward and adequate notice of the September 27, 1995 due process hearing and had an opportunity to be heard but did not avail himself of that opportunity.” The Court found that the City’s only duty was to provide notice of the hearing and the hearing itself, and that any failures on the part of Arredondo’s attorney should not be laid at the feet of the City.

Arredondo v. City of Billings, 2006 WL 1900928 (Mont. 2006).

This article appears in the August 2006 issue