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Supreme Court closes the book on Correia case

October 07, 2009
ALTON — Former Police Lt. Ed Correia's two-and-a-half-year legal battle against Alton's Board of Selectmen came to an apparent end on Oct. 2 with the state Supreme Court's decision to reject his final appeal.

Correia, one of three Alton officers placed on administrative leave in late 2006 (along with then-chief Kevin Iwans and former captain Chuck Anderson) following an investigation by the board of selectmen into accusations of misconduct, was fired in March of 2007 on charges of harassment, physical intimidation, and other alleged misconduct toward residents.

He later appealed his termination to Belknap County Superior Court, which overturned the selectmen's decision in March of 2008, prompting a series of appeals by both Correia and the selectmen that sent the case back and forth between the Superior Court and the Supreme Court over the next year and a half.

In its ruling on Correia's latest appeal, the Supreme Court rejected his argument that Town Attorney James Sessler's participation as hearing officer during the three-day evidentiary hearing in March of 2007 at which the selectmen publicly aired their charges against him violated his right to due process.

From a legal standpoint, the Court's ruling states, it was Correia's responsibility to object to Sessler's involvement in the hearing at that time, and not after the fact.

Correia's claim that his termination was unlawful because one of the charges against him (the allegation that he reported to construction details when he was scheduled for duty as Alton's school resource officer) was a common practice sanctioned by Iwans was also tossed out by the Court, which sided with the selectmen's opinion that he was "never compelled or commanded to work those details."

"Because the petitioner [Correia] has not shown that his termination was illegal, unjust, or unreasonable, we affirm [the selectmen's decision]," the Court's order reads.

A more in-depth look at the Court's ruling will appear in next week's issue of The Baysider

Brendan Berube can be reached at 569-3126 or bberube@salmonpress.com

Martin Lord and Osman
Salmon Press
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