August 22, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Denver’s Civil Service Commission May Impose Burden on Employee in Adverse Personnel Action

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Marshall v. Civil Service Commission of the City & County of Denver on Thursday, October 20, 2016.

Burden of Proof—Adverse Personnel Action.

Police officer Marshall was suspended by the Executive Director of Safety (Director). He appealed the Director’s decision, and a hearing officer found that he proved the Director’s actions to have been clearly erroneous. The Director appealed to the Civil Service Commission of the City and County of Denver (Commission), which reversed the hearing officer’s decision. Marshall then challenged the Commission’s decision in district court, and the court upheld the Commission’s decision. Marshall appealed.

Marshall’s sole contention on appeal was that the Commission violated the Denver City Charter (Charter) by imposing, by rule, the burden on him to show that the Director’s action was clearly erroneous.

The Court of Appeals noted that the Charter does not expressly address the burden of proof and it delegates unlimited rulemaking authority to the Commission regarding hearing procedures. The burden of proof in a hearing is a matter of procedure. The Commission may place the burden of proof on the employee by rule as long as the rule is consistent with the Charter. Here, the Court discerned no inconsistency.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

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