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Village president files claim notice

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ANN MARIE AMES
March 10, 2009
— The legal gymnastics continue.

Darien Village Board President Bob Metzner on Monday joined 10 people who earlier filed a notice of claim against Walworth County and the village.


Meanwhile, attorneys are working to determine if the public has the right to learn exactly why the village board Saturday voted to fire Police Chief Steve DeVoy.


Metzner, nine employees and a retired employee claim their Fourth Amendment rights were violated by surveillance cameras installed in the village police department.


Metzner filed a copy of the claim with the Walworth County Clerk on Monday. He told The Janesville Gazette he intended to file the notice of claim against the village as well, but Administrator Marc Dennison had not gotten a copy of it as of this morning.


The 10 others filed the notices Feb. 18.


The village board could take action on the claim Monday night. Village attorney David Danz has said he will recommend the village deny it.


The Walworth County Board tonight is expected to refer the claim to its executive committee.


The cameras in question were installed in November. A Walworth County sheriff's deputy installed them at the request of DeVoy, according to sheriff's office reports.


DeVoy turned to the sheriff's office for help when he became suspicious that Metzner and Darien Police Sgt. Mike Maltese were accessing department records without DeVoy's permission, according to sheriff's office reports.


The cameras didn't record any suspicious activity from Nov. 22 until Dec. 1, according to sheriff's office reports.


But they did open the door to another investigation.


After a village employee found the two cameras Dec. 1, the equipment was boxed up, employees nailed DeVoy's door shut, and DeVoy immediately was suspended with pay.


He has been suspended since.


While village attorneys investigated the matter, they found information that lead to four charges against the chief. The charges were that DeVoy installed the cameras without authorization, put unauthorized and obscene material on his office computer, had a relationship with a subordinate and failed to lead the department.


Based on those charges, the board voted 5-2 on Saturday to discharge DeVoy.


The village shared with the Gazette the documents backing up the camera charge.


But the details regarding the second and third charges are in legal limbo right now.


The Gazette has requested the information. The village wants to share it, Danz said.


But Danz said that as a village employee, DeVoy has the right to contest the release of the material.


An attorney for the Wisconsin Newspaper Association disagrees. He said this morning that as a department head DeVoy has no such right.


Danz said he intended to discuss the issue with the newspaper association attorney.


DeVoy still is a village employee. He has the right to a hearing, but the hearing has not been scheduled.



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