Law Director's Office Releases Statement Regarding Refusal to Prosecute Danville Cases
By Timothy Perry
April 7, 2016 - 6:27 PM
MOUNT VERNON - Mount Vernon City Law Director Robert Broeren released the
following statement today regarding the April 1 announcement that his office
would no longer handle cases from the Village of Danville:
“My review of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct’s
provisions regarding conflicts of interest and contact with adverse parties who
are represented by counsel led me to suspend the agreement under which the
Office of the Director of Law prosecuted criminal cases for the Village of
Danville in the Mount Vernon Municipal Court until the matter of Mark Perkins’
lawsuit against the City of Mount Vernon is concluded.
I raised the potential impact of Mr. Perkins’ lawsuit
against Mount Vernon in February when Danville Police Chief Dan Weckesser
informed me that he was considering hiring Mr. Perkins as police officer for
the Village of Danville. I continued to raise it in further conversations with
both Chief Weckesser and Danville’s solicitor, Noel Alden.
This decision has no effect on the Office of the Director of
Law’s agreements and relationships with the other municipalities in Knox
County, Centerburg, Fredericktown and Gambier, for which we currently and will
continue to prosecute criminal cases.
I appreciate the professionalism and courtesy that I have
received from both Chief Weckesser and Mr. Alden as we have attempted to
resolve this difficult issue. I look forward to the time when I can resume
prosecuting cases for the Village of Danville.”
The Mount Vernon police Department fired Perkins in 2013,
citing gross misconduct and insubordination.
Perkins, who had worked with the department since 1998 and, prior
to his termination held the rank of sergeant, filed a lawsuit in United States
District Court, Southern District of Ohio in 2013 against the City of Mount
Vernon. The lawsuit also names former Mount Vernon Police Chief Michael Merrilees, then Mount Vernon Safety Service Director David Glass, Mayor Richard Mavis, and then Mount Vernon Police Captain George Hartz as defendants.
The lawsuit alleges that the city violated the Uniformed
Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act during Perkins’ deployments
with the Ohio National Guard.
It also alleges that he was discriminated against before and
after his military service through failure to promote, denial of his right to
use accrued leave while on military duty, terminating him without just cause
because of his military status, and violation of Ohio’s open record law.
It alleges that, during his time as an active duty service
member, the city failed to compensate him as required by law.
According to the lawsuit, former Police chief Michael
Merrilees made a number of derogatory remarks about Perkins’ military service
including one in which Merrilees allegedly approached Perkins to pick an argument
yelling "Are you a soldier or a cop?" and another in which the
lawsuit alleges that Perkins asked Merrilees "Why are you so
anti-military?" and Merrilees replied, "You're not in the military
anymore - you've been promoted to cop".
defendants, in their response to the lawsuit denied these allegations and stated
that “just cause existed for all actions taken with respect to Plaintiff’s
Perkins, a 2004 recipient of the Mount Vernon Police
Department’s “Officer of the Year” award, joined the Danville Police Department
in February of this year and was quickly promoted to full time officer,
effective this month. He has worked in law enforcement for nearly three
decades, having served with the Mount Vernon Police Department and the Knox
County Sheriff’s Office.
A copy of the lawsuit, the City's response, and a copy of a recently filed motion to file an amended complaint are available at the links below:
I suggest all in the community read each of the legal actions ....you may, as myself, find your opinion different then before you read them. I have fewer questions about Perkins but, many questions, now, about the way our Police Dept was being run.