Split is sought in ex-chief suit

BANGOR — The town of Bar Harbor is asking the court for a separate, nonjury trial for one of the issues raised in the federal lawsuit filed by former Police Chief Nate Young, who claims he was unjustly fired in January 2014.

Attorney Mark Franco filed a motion in U.S. District Court on Nov. 4, asking the court to hear any facts relevant to Young’s Rule 80B claims without a jury present.

“Doing so would streamline issues relevant to the appeal and avoid the substantial risk of prejudice to the town of Bar Harbor should the issue of bias and predetermination be raised before the jury,” Franco states in the motion.

Rule 80B appeals involve administrative actions. Young contends town councilors acted improperly in the period leading up to his dismissal. The former chief’s claims include bias toward him on the part of some councilors and allegations that councilors held improper executive sessions where his situation was discussed. He also alleges that the council’s decision to uphold his dismissal at an appeal hearing had been predetermined.

According to Franco, Young testified in his deposition that he would rely on the testimony of former Town Councilors Christopher Walsh and Robert Garland to support his claims of bias and predetermination. Two Bar Harbor residents, Les Foss and Dessa Dancy, are expected to testify in support of Young’s claim that they had conversations with councilors where certain remarks “could imply that they relied on information outside the evidence provided at the hearing,” Franco writes.

Their testimony could prejudice a jury in their consideration of other issues in Young’s lawsuit, Franco maintains.

Young’s claims also include that he is a victim of discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act and Maine Human Rights Act for a disability, which he has said is alcoholism, and that his rights were violated under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

It is unclear when the court is to consider the town’s motion. Earlier this year, a trial was tentatively scheduled for March 8.

Young was placed on administrative leave with pay on Oct. 1, 2013, while an investigator hired by the town looked into an incident a week earlier. Bar Harbor police went to the closed Town Hill Market for a well-being check after a passerby reported a suspicious truck parked there. Young was the sole occupant of that vehicle.

While the investigation was underway, Young entered an alcohol treatment program. The investigator later concluded that Young was intoxicated when officers arrived to conduct the well-being check.

Based on the investigator’s report, then-Town Manager Dana Reed fired Young on Jan. 22, 2014. Young’s appeal to the Town Council regarding his termination was unsuccessful.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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