Suspended Liberty Township Fire Chief Tim Jensen’s attorney has filed for a stay of a planned disciplinary hearing in connection with misconduct charges against Jensen.
Attorneys have agreed to push back the mid-July disciplinary hearing dates until August, according to Jensen’s attorney, Paul Bittner.
The planned hearing will be presided over by Liberty Township trustees. Bittner has asked Delaware County Common Pleas Judge Everett Krueger to dismiss the misconduct charges and has now asked the court to stop the disciplinary hearing from proceeding. He alleges that Jensen cannot get a fair hearing in front of township trustees.
Bittner filed for the stay of hearing late Thursday. “Hopefully we’ll get a ruling next week so we know what to do,” Bittner said. “We want to know the answer before we get prepped.”
Bittner said he and the township’s attorneys, Edward Kim and David A. Riepenhoff, agreed to move the trustees’ disciplinary hearing date back to Aug. 8-9 to allow enough time for a court ruling on the stay. “Does the hearing go forward while waiting on the appeal?” Bittner said. “It’s an attempt to get clarification from the court.”
Township Trustee Shyra Eichhorn said Friday that “we are aware” of both the stay request and the hearing date changes. “No surprises,” she said.
Jensen was placed on paid administrative leave March 1 by township administrator Matt Huffman.
Trustees officially charged Jensen on May 16, alleging misconduct in office and gross neglect of duty, based on an investigation report prepared by Cincinnati attorney Douglas Duckett. Trustees have paid Duckett nearly $19,000 for his investigation and the resulting 33-page report.
In total, township taxpayers have paid about $84,856 so far in connection with the investigation of Jensen.
Columbus attorney Kim has billed the township $26,267 for his services in the investigation of Jensen.
The township also paid $9,256 for a report prepared by Youngstown attorney David Comstock Jr. in 2015.
Comstock investigated the fire department and wrote a risk management analysis for the department.
As of Friday, Jensen will have been paid about $30,333 while he’s suspended — four months of his $91,000 annual salary.
Trustees hired attorney Kim to represent them in the matter, instead of seeking legal assistance from the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin