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Municipal Civil Service Commission Cannot Require Time-in-Grade Eligibility Requirement for Police Officers to Receive Promotion

In the case State ex rel. Johnstone v. Cincinnati, Slip Opinion No.2021-Ohio-3393, the Ohio Supreme Court held that a municipal civil service commission can not require a police officer, other than a patrol officer, to serve more than twelve months in a current rank before being eligible for promotion.

Here, a lieutenant with the City of Cincinnati applied for a promotion to the position of captain. The position of captain required an application to have two years of service with the city as a lieutenant. However, this requirement was waived during one application cycle and an applicant who didn’t meet the two-year requirement was promoted. The lieutenant sought a petition for a writ of mandamus to compel the city to promote him to the rank of captain. The trial court and the court of appeals found that the waiver of the two-year requirement was arbitrary and granted the writ. The Ohio Supreme Court disagreed with the Court of Appeal’s grant of the writ of mandamus.

The Ohio Supreme Court found that R.C. 124.44 doesn’t allow a municipal civil service commission to require a police officer to serve more than twelve (12) months in the officer’s current rank as a condition for promotion. As such, the Court reasoned that the lieutenant here had no clear legal right to a promotion based on the argument that the commission improperly waived its two-year promotion requirement since this requirement was statutorily prohibited.

To read this article, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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