UPDATE: The board that's set to hear a union complaint against Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson, has filed its own motion in court against the chief.
The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners is asking a judge to dismiss Epperson's lawsuit that would prevent the commissioners from hearing the case.
Epperson's attorney argues the board does not have the authority to hear the complaint. However, the board says it does have the authority since it hired the chief.
A judge is expected to make a decision on Epperson's initial suit on August 13th.
ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Lawyers representing Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson, the Police Union, and Rockford’s Board of Fire and Police Commissioners will have a chance to argue in open court who has final authority over the Chief of Police.
Winnebago County Judge Eugene Doherty is giving lawyers from both the Chief and Police Union another chance to argue who ultimately has authority over Police Chief Chet Epperson.
Instead of ruling to stop the Commission or let them continue to investigate and potentially discipline Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson over an incident involving Rockford NAACP President Lloyd Johnston, Judge Doherty is asking both sides to do their homework, using the city ordinances and laws and make a formal argument on who has authority over the Chief-- Mayor Morrissey or the board of Fire and Police Commissioners.
“He has an open mind, otherwise we wouldn’t have this thing scheduled, and it our position that when I present those authorities, which of course I shall do, the judge will see that the appointment and the discipline of the occupant of the office of Chief of Police is in the ends of the Chief Executive of the City of Rockford, the Mayor,” said Chief Epperson’s Attorney Thomas McGuire.
The Police Union disagrees with that argument. Both sides will make their arguments on August 13, when the judge will make a final ruling on who has authority which will have a big impact on the case right now in front of the Board of Commissioners.
The judge already ruled and said in court today he feels the law says the Commission has the authority, but Judge Doherty says when he made the first ruling, lawyers rushed the process, so he wants both sides to have enough time to make a more thorough argument so he can make a better decision in the end.