High court won’t reconsider decision not to hear Rist appeal

Published 9:47 am Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Ohio Supreme Court has denied a motion by a former Ironton Police officer to reconsider its decision not to hear her appeal.

The high court ruled Wednesday it would not hear Beth Rist’s appeal to get her job back.

“We’re disappointed but not surprised,” Rist’s attorney Marc Mezibov said.

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Mezibov, a Cincinnati-based attorney, is also representing Rist in a civil rights lawsuit against the city and its police department in U.S. District Court. The attorney said, though there are no other appeals to be made concerning the grievance of her termination, he is optimistic about the federal lawsuit.

“We believe our lawsuit is meritorious and we look forward to a hearing in federal court and we look forward to a successful outcome,” he said.

Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship expressed relief that one of the legal matters is done.

“I’m glad that court case is over,” he said. “She still has another one pending against the city.”

The high court announced March 16 that after a 5-2 vote, it would not hear Rist’s appeal to get her job back. Rist filed a motion March 28 asking the high court to reconsider its decision.

Two justices, Terrence O’Donnell and Judith Ann Lanzinger, voted to reconsider the court’s decision, the court announced Wednesday. Lanzinger and O’Donnell were the same justices who originally voted to hear the case. The five others voted against the reconsideration. The court did not offer an explanation of its decision.

The former policewoman and current city councilwoman was fired in 2008 after admitting to writing a ticket to someone other than the actual driver of a vehicle. She pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to two years probation for falsifying a traffic ticket.

Rist filed a grievance protesting her termination.

An arbitrator determined that she had been fired without cause and ordered that she be reinstated to her position as a police officer.

After the city appealed the arbitrator’s decision in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court, Rist’s termination was reinstated.

In October, she appealed to the Fourth District Court of Appeals, which upheld her termination.

In December 2010, she appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court. The court decided not to hear the case. She then appealed to the high court a second time.

In a separate legal action, Rist filed the civil rights lawsuit against the City of Ironton and its police department in June 2010 in U.S. District Court.

In that lawsuit, the former police sergeant claimed she was fired because of her gender and in retaliation for her documented opposition to what she alleges was discriminatory treatment.

The lawsuit alleges that her termination and the city’s failure to reinstate her were motivated by a desire to discriminate against her for protesting a hostile work environment.

The case is still pending in the federal court.

In 2001, Rist, who was hired in 1996 as the department’s first female officer, filed suit against the city on grounds of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. That lawsuit was settled out of court.