Appeal hearing for fired Cedar Rapids police officer Lucas Jones will be ‘all virtual’

The three-member Civil Service Commission voted on Friday, Sept. 11, to keep the appeal hearing for Lucas Jones all virtual. — screengrab

The Cedar Rapids Civil Service Commission voted on Friday to keep the appeal hearing for fired police officer Lucas Jones all virtual in light of increased cases of COVID-19 in Linn County. The two-day hearing is scheduled to begin on Sept. 22.

The Cedar Rapids Police Department fired Jones in June for turning off a microphone that should have been recording a traffic stop he conducted on Oct. 30, 2016, then lying about it. His letter of termination details six violations stemming from the traffic stop that led to him receiving letters of reprimand, a 40-hour suspension and eventually being fired.

The commission first began discussing a possible format and dates for the appeal hearing in July. During the July 23 meeting, commission chair Nancy Evans seemed inclined to have the hearing in person due to the “significant public interest” in the case. However, Evans and the other two commissioners Kory Kazimour and Greg Reed all expressed hesitations due to the rising COVID-19 cases.

The following week the three commissioners voted during their July 31 meeting to conduct the hearing online. Attorney Mo Sheronick, who is representing the commission, said this was the safest legal option.

Jones’s lawyer Skylar Limkemann and attorney Jason Craig, who is representing the CRPD, have pushed for an in-person hearing during the last month and a half. A joint motion was filed by the lawyers to delay the hearing from August to September in hopes of holding it in person.

In addition to technology concerns, Craig said an online hearing potentially gives Jones a procedural issue to raise on appeal, if he objects to the lack of an in-person hearing. Limkemann said he believes an online hearing would deny Jones his due process and that Jones strongly objects to a virtual hearing.

At the start of Friday’s meeting, the city’s human resources director Teresa Feldmann presented an option if the commission decided to switch to an in-person hearing. Feldmann said she had also asked Linn County Public Health for guidance.

Feldmann said there was a large venue available that would allow for social distancing. Attendees would be screened, required to wear masks, use hand-sanitizing stations and practice social distancing. Feldmann said attendees would need to register and provide their contact information in case contact tracing had to be done later.

Despite the precautions and plan outlined by Feldmann, all three commissioners expressed their desire to keep the hearing fully virtual.

“I don’t think there’s any sign that the virus is downplayed and that we’re really in good shape now,” Reed said. “I think we’re at a peak in Linn County.”

Kazimour added that she appreciates Feldmann looking into the possibility of doing the hearing in-person but doesn’t think it’s worth the risk.

“I feel the same way,” Evans added. “You know, contact tracing is fine, but being inside for two days with people who may or may not be honest about their symptoms doesn’t inspire me with confidence.”

Cityc of Cedar Rapids Civil Service Commission Meeting – September 11, 2020

Cityc of Cedar Rapids Civil Service Commission Meeting – September 11, 2020. Comments are not moderated.

Posted by City of Cedar Rapids Iowa Government on Friday, September 11, 2020

After the commission unanimously voted to keep the hearing all online, Limekemann asked if there was another date where the commission would feel comfortable for an in-person hearing.

“It’s my client and his livelihood and his future,” Limekemann said. “He has the potential to be decertified based on this action, so there are very grave consequences here.”

Evans said she doesn’t think it’s possible to pick a future date because it’s unclear when things will get better with the pandemic.

“I can’t tell you. I don’t know who can. Who can tell us when it will be safe for everybody to get back together? Anybody else know the answer to that question?” Evans asked, with no one responding to her.

Both attorneys also had questions about the logistics of the virtual hearing, particularly if clients and witnesses will be in the same room as the attorneys. Even though the commission voted to have the hearing virtually, Evans said she would not object to attorneys and witnesses being in the same room “if you’re willing to take that risk.”

Craig asked Limkemann if he has ideas of if the witnesses should be in the same room as the attorney or if they should be participating virtually.

“Frankly, I do not, and I was hoping that the commission would provide some guidance on it,” Limkemann said. “I assumed when the commission had directed that this be held all virtual that nobody would be appearing together, and in some sense, I feel like we’re winging this.”

In response, Evans said, “Yep, it feels a little that way too, but I will say we wanted all virtual. The commissioners voted for the hearing all virtual. If your interpretation of that is that that means you won’t be allowed to be in the same room with your client, if that’s your interpretation, you can stick with that.”

The meeting was then adjourned.

[gravityform id="17" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper your-village-form_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_17' ><a id='gf_17' class='gform_anchor' ></a><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_17' id='gform_17' class='your-village-form' action='/appeal-hearing-for-fired-cedar-rapids-police-officer-lucas-jones-will-be-all-virtual/#gf_17'> <div class='gform_body'><ul id='gform_fields_17' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id='field_17_7' class='gfield gfield_html gfield_html_formatted gfield_no_follows_desc field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><h3 style="font-weight:800; font-size:34px;">Let's get started</h3> <p style="font-size:18px;">Fill out this form and we'll contact you with information about marketing with Little Village!</p></li><li id='field_17_4' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' for='input_17_4_3' ></label><div class='ginput_complex ginput_container no_prefix has_first_name no_middle_name has_last_name no_suffix gf_name_has_2 ginput_container_name gfield_trigger_change' id='input_17_4'> <span id='input_17_4_3_container' class='name_first' > <input type='text' name='input_4.3' id='input_17_4_3' value='' aria-label='First name' tabindex='2' aria-invalid="false" placeholder='First name'/> <label for='input_17_4_3' >First</label> </span> <span id='input_17_4_6_container' class='name_last' > <input type='text' name='input_4.6' id='input_17_4_6' value='' aria-label='Last name' tabindex='4' aria-invalid="false" placeholder='Last name'/> <label for='input_17_4_6' >Last</label> </span> </div></li><li id='field_17_5' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_17_5' ><span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_5' id='input_17_5' type='text' value='' class='large' tabindex='6' placeholder='Company name' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_17_3' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_17_3' ><span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_3' id='input_17_3' type='text' value='' class='large' tabindex='7' placeholder='Your email address' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false"/> </div></li><li id='field_17_8' class='gfield gform_validation_container field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_17_8' >Comments</label><div class='ginput_container'><input name='input_8' id='input_17_8' type='text' value='' /></div><div class='gfield_description'>This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.</div></li> </ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_17' class='gform_button button' value='SUBMIT' tabindex='8' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_17"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_17"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_17"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_17"]=true; jQuery("#gform_17").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=17&amp;title=&amp;description=&amp;tabindex=1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_17' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='17' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_17' value='WyJbXSIsIjlmNzc1YTEyZmZjNmYyODk5Mzk0NDM3ZjRlOGYyZDNmIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_17' id='gform_target_page_number_17' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_17' id='gform_source_page_number_17' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> <p style="display: none !important;"><label>&#916;<textarea name="ak_hp_textarea" cols="45" rows="8" maxlength="100"></textarea></label><input type="hidden" id="ak_js_1" name="ak_js" value="106"/><script>document.getElementById( "ak_js_1" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() );</script></p></form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_17' id='gform_ajax_frame_17'>This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.</iframe> <script type='text/javascript'>jQuery(document).ready(function($){gformInitSpinner( 17, '' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_17').load( function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_17');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_17').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').offset().top); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_17').val();gformInitSpinner( 17, '' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [17, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_17'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_17').offset().top);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [17]);window['gf_submitting_17'] = false;}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_17').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [17, current_page]);} );} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> if(typeof gf_global == 'undefined') var gf_global = {"gf_currency_config":{"name":"U.S. Dollar","symbol_left":"$","symbol_right":"","symbol_padding":"","thousand_separator":",","decimal_separator":".","decimals":2},"base_url":"https:\/\/\/wp-content\/plugins\/gravityforms-asdf111aasdfffs-nope","number_formats":[],"spinnerUrl":"https:\/\/\/wp-content\/plugins\/gravityforms-asdf111aasdfffs-nope\/images\/spinner.gif"};jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_render', function(event, formId, currentPage){if(formId == 17) {if(typeof Placeholders != 'undefined'){ Placeholders.enable(); }} } );jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_conditional_logic', function(event, formId, fields, isInit){} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).ready(function(){jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [17, 1]) } ); </script>