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Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council v. Hodges

Court of Appeals of Georgia

September 30, 2014

GEORGIA PEACE OFFICERS STANDARDS AND TRAINING COUNCIL
v.
HODGES

Reconsideration denied December 3, 2014.

Peace officer certification. Bulloch Superior Court. Before Judge Woodrum.

Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Patricia B. Attaway Burton, Deputy Attorney General, Joseph J. Drolet, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Angelique B. McClendon, Assistant Attorney General, for appellant.

Edenfield, Cox, Bruce & Classens, Gerald M. Edenfield, Benjamin J. Colson, for appellee.

McMILLIAN, Judge. Phipps, C. J., and Ellington, P. J., concur.

OPINION

McMillian, Judge.

Appellant Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (" P.O.S.T." or " Council" ) is appealing a superior court order, which reversed P.O.S.T.'s denial of appellee Julian B. Hodges III's petition for reinstatement of his certification as a peace officer, and also [330 Ga.App. 146] affirmatively granted Hodges' reinstatement as a peace officer. Because the superior court granted the petition on grounds not raised before the agency, we reverse and remand this case for further proceedings as more fully set forth below.[1]

The record shows that on December 5, 2012, Hodges voluntarily surrendered his peace officer certification, effective January 2011,[2] amidst allegations, among others, that he had written numerous bad checks, that he had failed to notify the appropriate agency that warrants for his arrest had been issued in connection with the bad checks, and that he had been untruthful during the investigation of these matters. Hodges did not and does not contest the revocation of his P.O.S.T. certification.

Three months after Hodges executed the voluntary surrender, in March 2013, Hodges requested in writing to have his P.O.S.T. certification reinstated pursuant to Ga. Comp. R. & Regs., r. 464-18-.01 (1).[3]

Page 287

Upon review, the P.O.S.T. staff recommended that the certification committee review Hodges' request, and the record reflects that Hodges appeared before the certification committee on April 17, 2013. Following a full hearing at which Hodges was allowed to present his case before the committee, the certification committee voted to recommend that Hodges' request be denied.

A hearing on Hodges' reinstatement request was scheduled before the full Council on June 5, 2013. However, shortly before the hearing, Hodges' newly retained counsel filed a request for continuance, citing the fact that he had not yet had time to prepare for the hearing and that he had a jury trial scheduled. At the June 5, 2013 meeting, the P.O.S.T. executive committee voted to recommend to the full Council that Hodges' request for a continuance be denied. On the same day, the full Council voted to accept that recommendation and denied Hodges' request for a continuance. Further, also at its June 5, 2013 meeting, the Council accepted the recommendation of the certification committee and denied Hodges' request for reinstatement of his certification.

[330 Ga.App. 147] Hodges then filed a petition for judicial review in the Superior Court of Bulloch County. Hodges sought review under OCGA § 35-8-7.2 (b)

on the grounds that the action taken by ... P.O.S.T. regarding Petitioner's Request for Reinstatement of Certification is clearly erroneous and arbitrary in view of the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence presented by Petitioner. Further, the action taken by Respondent P.O.S.T. in this ...

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