Lawsuit by former executive director of Police Accountability Board is dismissed

  • In Business
  • 2022-09-22 17:17:37Z
  • By Democrat and Chronicle

A state Supreme Court justice Wednesday ruled in favor of the Police Accountability Board, saying its suspension of Executive Director Conor Dwyer Reynolds could stand despite violations of state Open Meetings Law.

Dwyer Reynolds sued the board and city of Rochester in July over the circumstances of his May 12 suspension. He argued the board had "flouted (Open Meetings Law) with the express intention of hiding a wrongful process," and asked to be reinstated.

Conor Dwyer Reynolds
Conor Dwyer Reynolds  

The lawsuit and PAB response reveal the PAB operating on the far fringes of state Open Meetings law: holding retreats and "listening sessions" instead of public meetings, discussing business at social gatherings, posting public notices late or not at all.

The judge, Sam Valleriani, conceded there had been "technical violations" of the law but concluded there was no malicious intent and therefore no justification for reversing the board's action.

"Such reinstatement ... based upon technical violation(s) of the OML would result in a unilateral victory for petitioner without respondents having a full and fair opportunity to defend their decision," Valleriani wrote. "The violations were technical in nature, not intentional to thwart the law, and mainly occurred prior to the May 12, 2022, meeting resulting in the suspension of the petitioner with pay."

Valleriani did order training in Open Meetings Law for the PAB within 90 days, "to resolve the PAB's uncertainty and provided a clearer path moving forward so technical violations are not repeated."

In a statement, Dwyer Reynolds' attorney, Ali Frick wrote: "We're gratified that a judge has recognized that City officials repeatedly violated the New York Open Meetings Law in the run-up to Mr. Dwyer Reynolds's suspension and ordered appropriate sanctions. While we are disappointed that the Court did not annul Mr. Dwyer Reynolds's unlawful suspension, we fully intend to continue fighting this injustice and seeking his reinstatement."

Neither the PAB nor the city would provide a comment.

Since Dwyer Reynolds' suspension, Duwaine Bascoe has been serving as PAB's acting manager. As of Aug. 31, the board has received 130 complaints. At the same time there have been reports of departures and firings; a group of junior staff complained anonymously in June of a "highly toxic (workplace), wrought with retaliation, fear and low morale."

Former board chairwoman Shani Wilson resigned in June. Dwyer Reynolds accused her of sexual harassment and retaliation after he rebuffed her alleged advances.

In addition to a pending appeal of the lawsuit, several investigations and administrative complaints remain open. The city's investigation of Dwyer Reynolds' suspension is apparently still active four months after it began. There are also an unspecified number of complaints before the state Division of Human Rights, including some on either side of the dispute.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Lawsuit against Rochester NY Police Accountability Board dismissed


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