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Posted May 6, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Judge upholds town's firing of police officer

By Joe Beck

The town of Strasburg has won what could be a final victory in a legal dispute with fired police officer Aaron Lewis.

Judge Dennis L. Hupp ruled in Shenandoah County Circuit Court in April that a three-member panel was correct in upholding Lewis's dismissal.

Nathan Miller, a Harrisonburg attorney representing the town and Police Chief Tim Sutherly, called Hupp's ruling, "final, binding and absolute."

The three-member panel upheld Lewis's dismissal after he filed a request for a grievance procedure challenging his dismissal from the police force in 2010.

Sutherly said Monday it appeared that the town had prevailed.

"That's kind of how we see it," Sutherly said, adding that Lewis's attorney has signaled he may appeal Hupp's decision, "but we don't see how that's possible.

William M. Wittman of Leesburg, who is representing Lewis, said no decision has been made about appealing the case. Wittman said he will have 21 days to file an appeal, if he chooses to do so, after Hupp enters a final order in the case.

"I will say this," Wittman said. "Due to our conviction that Aaron Lewis has a good case, we are seriously considering an appeal."

The reasons for Lewis's dismissal remain unclear.

Wittman said the panel that heard Lewis's grievance was made up of one member chosen by the town, one by Lewis and one by the circuit court after the two opposing sides could not agree on a third, independent member.

The panel was appointed in accordance with procedures contained in the town's personnel manual that allow employees to air their grievances.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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