Alba says due process rights were violated in petition to Waukesha County Circuit Court

Todd Ponath
Recently demoted Waukesha fire chief Jesse Alba says in a petition to the Waukesha County Circuit Court that his due process rights were violated in the investigation against him. He is hoping to have the Police and Fire Commission's decision of demotion reversed.
Published on: 11/5/2013

Claiming that his "due process rights were violated," recently demoted Waukesha Fire Chief Jesse Alba's attorney has filed a petition for writ of certiorari against the City of Waukesha's Police and Fire Commission.

The petition, through his attorney Victor E. Plantinga, was filed with the Waukesha County Circuit Court on Oct. 31. The petition filed last week requests the court "review legal defects in the administrative record of the proceedings before the City and the Police and Fire Commission."

After a lengthy investigation and multiple disciplinary hearings, the PFC determined Alba violated department rules saying he was unfit for a supervisory role.

Its decision was centered on the fact that Alba asked a part-time female employee to consider resigning because of the difficulties, he said, the two were having in getting over their affair in 2012.

The PFC put Alba on paid administrative leave in August. After releasing its Findings of Fact and Determinations Oct. 14, it demoted Alba to the rank of firefighter within the Waukesha Fire Department.

But Alba said in his appeal that there wasn't "just cause" for his demotion.

"The Findings of Fact and Determinations (in the case) were arbitrary, oppressive and unreasonable and represented its will and not its judgment," the petition of writ of certiorari states.

It adds that "the City of Waukesha clearly failed to follow its own internal procedure as it relates to the investigation of the disciplinary action in violation of the petitioner's due process rights. The respondent relied upon inadmissible hearsay in the Findings of Fact and Determinations on two occasions and attempted to support the use of hearsay. By relying on hearsay, (the) respondent acted in violation of (Alba's) due process rights."

Alba's rights, the petition said, were violated because "the (PFC) was not impartial."

The writ of certiorari also said "by allowing the city attorney to participate in these proceedings, the Police and Fire Commission, which is supposed to be composed of an impartial body, tainted the appearance of the commission's independence and impartiality."

Plantinga also notes that due to "unreasonable action by the (PFC), Alba "will suffer significant financial harm" in being demoted and that his ability and likelihood of promotion with the department or outside agencies has been "significantly diminished" for the remainder of his career.