United States District Court, D. Utah
NICHOLAS J. ROBERTS, Plaintiff,
JAMES M. WINDER, individually; ROSIE RIVERA, in her official capacities as the Salt Lake County Sheriff and CEO of the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
A. KIMBALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Defendants James M. Winder,
Rosie Rivera, and the Unified Police Department of Greater
Salt Lake's (collectively “Defendants”)
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and Plaintiff Nicholas
Roberts' Motion to Continue Hearing. On August 16, 2018,
the court held a hearing on the motion. At the hearing, the
Plaintiff was represented by Jesse Trentadue and Robert
Hughes. Defendants were represented by Scott Young and Harry
Souvall. The court took the motions under advisement. Based
on the briefing filed by the parties and the law and facts
relevant to the pending motion, the court issues the
following Memorandum Decision and Order GRANTING in part and
DENYING in part Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment and GRANTING in part and DENYING in part
Roberts' Motion to Continue.
Roberts (Roberts) filed suit alleging that he was unlawfully
demoted from his position as Range Master-Firearms Instructor
(Range Master). The parties agreed in oral argument that the
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment hinges on whether the
Range Master position was classified as “Merit”
or “Specialist.” If the position was classified
as “Merit” then Roberts has a property interest
in his former position. Rather, if the position was
classified as “Specialist” then Roberts does not
have a property interest in his position and may be
reassigned pursuant to his merit rank. Determining the
classification of the Range Master position requires
analyzing how the position was created, and whether the
position's classification changed over time.
March 18, 1996, Sheriff Aaron Kennard wrote to the Deputy
Sheriff's Merit Commission (“Merit
Commission”) requesting “the Merit Commission to
reestablish a specialist position, for the Firearms Range
Instructor/Supervisor, as allowed by Deputy Sheriff's
Merit Commission Policy #4140.” Kennard's March
18th, 1996 Letter, Ex. G., (Dkt. No. 39-8).
April 11, 1996, Notice of a Public Hearing on the
“Proposed Specialist Position” was posted. The
notice stated, “Sheriff Kennard has requested that the
Merit Commission approve the creation of a specialist
position Range Master (See Policy #4140 Specialist
Positions).” Specialist Position Notice Ex. G, (Dkt.
39-8). On April 18, 1996, the Merit Commission held a public
hearing addressing Sheriff Kennard's request for the new
position. At the hearing, Salt Lake County Human Resources
Director Susan Biesele advised that pursuant to Policy #4140
relating to Specialist appointments:
If an officer appointed to a specialist position receives a
grade increase, the following applies: the officer will
maintain two classifications: his merit rank and the
appointed grade. The merit rank is attained through
appointment from a merit register based on a competitive
merit examination, while the grade appointment is based on
the provisions of the policy. Subsection 5.2 states that,
“the grade appointment does not change or alter the
merit status of the officer.” She stated that in other
words, Sergeant and Lieutenant ranks are separate from the
April 18, 1996 Merit Comm. Mtg. Minutes, Def. 85, Ex. H (Dkt.
1, 1996, Richard Rieke, Chair of the Merit Commission, wrote
Sheriff Kennard and notified him:
In a public hearing, April 18, 1996, the Merit Commission
received evidence and heard testimony regarding your request
(letter dated March 18, 1996 and related documents) to
establish the “specialist position” of Range
Master. The hearing was conducted pursuant to the merit
system statute 30-17-12(1) and Merit Commission Policy #4140
SPECIALIST POSITIONS, which allows the Sheriff to appoint a
qualified person to such a position after a public hearing
and upon approval of the Merit Commission.
May 1, 1996 letter to Sheriff Kennard from Richard Rieke,
Chair of Deputy Sheriff's Merit Service Commission, Def.
88-89 Ex. E (Dkt. No. 39-6).
Merit Commission approved the creation of the Range Master
position at two levels: Level I P-17 (rank and pay grade
equivalent to that of sergeant) and Level II P-21 (rank and
pay grade equivalent to that of a lieutenant). On May 3,
1996, the Merit Commission posted a job notice that listed
the Range Master as a Specialist Position. Specialist
Position Job Notice, Ex. G (Dkt. No. 39-8).
1, 1996, Roberts applied for the Range Master position. In
the opening line of his application, Roberts wrote that he is
applying for the “specialist position of Range
Master.” Roberts' Application, Ex. G (Dkt. No.
39-8). On August 14, 1996, Sheriff Kennard wrote a letter to
Roberts appointing him “to the position of Specialist
Range Master Level I.” Sheriff Aaron D. Kennard August
14, 1996 letter to Deputy Nick Roberts, Ex. N (Dkt. No.
August 17, 1998, Captain George Nelson wrote a memo to
Sheriff Kennard requesting that “Range Master Nick
Roberts be advanced in rank from Specialist Level 1 to
Specialist Level 2 as provided under the specialist provision
for the Range Master.” Aug. 17, 1998 Memo, Ex. G (Dkt.
39-8). On September 16, 1998, Roberts received a Certificate
of Commission that labels his ...