Darien legal costs piling up
Attorney fees paid in 2009 by the village of Darien
Danz Law Office, Elkhorn—$40,700
Hazelbaker and Associates, Madison—$31,200
Municipal court attorneys—$4,900
—Through August per village data
DARIEN The village of Darien has spent $65,837 this year for a police chief it doesn't have.
That amount will keep rising as the process to fire suspended Police Chief Steve DeVoy drags on. Attorneys for the two sides disagree on what could happen to the wages DeVoy has earned since March.
Village attorney Mark Hazelbaker has said that if DeVoy is fired as a result of the hearing, he might have to pay back the wages he has earned since March, when the board voted to fire him.
DeVoy's attorney, Tom Halloran, disagrees.
"That's not how I interpret the statute," Halloran said.
Meanwhile, attorneys fees for the village continue to add up. Through August, the 2009 total was greater than any recent year, according to village data.
The village board in December suspended DeVoy with pay after employees found surveillance cameras in the police department. On March 7, the board voted 4-3 to terminate him based on six non-criminal charges including failure to provide leadership, having a sexual relationship with a subordinate and installing surveillance cameras without authority.
But that didn't end his employment. Rather, the vote set in motion a process to fire the chief, said Madison attorney Scott Herrick.
Herrick has been hired by the village to act as a hearing examiner in the DeVoy case.
In small communities without a police commission, such as Darien, a hearing examiner may be appointed to make decisions about police terminations, Herrick said.
DeVoy's hearing, originally scheduled for July, has been rescheduled for Monday, Nov. 16.
The chief has been paid $47,100 in wages since Jan. 1, according to village data. He has been paid $18,700 in benefits.
A motion Halloran filed last week has caused the most recent termination hearing delay.
According to the motion, Hazelbaker on Sept. 14 made a settlement offer on behalf of the village board. DeVoy on Sept. 17 agreed to the offer that would have brought him back to work under a strict list of conditions.
Halloran's motion contends that because DeVoy agreed to the settlement offer, DeVoy's suspension should be ended.
But in a regular board meeting on Sept. 21, the board voted 4-2 against the settlement.
Herrick is taking written arguments on Halloran's motion from both attorneys. If Herrick decides it's necessary, he'll hold a hearing on the motion Oct. 23, he said.
The result of the motion will decide the scheduling of the termination hearing, Herrick said.
"If I don't grant the motion, then the case would go forward," he said.
The DeVoy case has helped drive up the village's 2009 spending on legal advice.
Through August, the village had spent $81,000 on attorneys other than municipal court services.
Although the amount spent on the DeVoy case was not immediately available, spending on attorneys other than municipal court services in all of 2008 totaled $53,000. In 2007, the total was $42,600.
In a July 15 letter to the village, attorney William Stanley estimated a hearing would cost the village $20,000.