It's taken more than four years, but an appeals court has vindicated Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry, ruling that Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. had no authority to suspend him in February 2012.
The seven-day suspension, which was publicized throughout the state, was a blot on Perry's otherwise stellar professional record.
It also created a cascading domino effect among KPD personnel that tarnished several careers and most recently manifested in Assistant Chief Mark Begley's discrimination and retaliation suit against KPD and the county.
Following the suspension, the Kauai police commission unanimously voted to reinstate the Chief. But Carvalho refused to allow him to return to work, resulting in a humiliating showdown at KPD, when Begley thrice refused Perry's direct order to return his badge and gun.
When Perry finally returned to work, he attempted to take action against Begley for insubordination. Begley then took medical leave, and has never returned to work. The mayor said police commissioners had to determine who had authority to suspend the chief before dealing with Begley's insubordination complaint.
Commissioners went to court, arguing that only they had authority under the county charter to hire, fire and discipline the chief. Circuit Judge Randal Valenciano, a former Kauai County Councilman, ruled that the mayor, as the county's chief executive officer, had power over all departments.
Commissioners then appealed that ruling to the Intermediate Court of Appeals. The ICA noted in its ruling that the charter does not explicitly provide an answer, and both sides made good arguments.
But the ICA ultimately determined that the commission's power to discipline the chief is implied in its sole authority to hire and fire him. It cited a Massachusetts court ruling that had determined “it would be strange indeed” if an entity had only the authority to remove, but not impose a lesser punishment.
The ICA also noted that the Charter gives the mayor a voice, but no vote, in the commission's proceedings.
So will the chief sue the county for wrongful suspension? Will the mayor publicly apologize to the chief for dragging his name through the mud and causing him to lose face at KPD? And how will this ruling affect Begley's case?
All that remains to be seen, but the chief did issue this statement:
"I am thankful to the Kauai Police Commission for appealing Judge Valenciano’s decision and grateful that the Intermediate Court of Appeals reviewed all of the facts and came to the right conclusion that the Mayor had no authority to do what he did. With this decision, all of the police commissions and Mayors throughout the State will have clear guidelines with respect to their lawful authority."