By Ed Runyan
An employee of Judge Thomas Gysegem’s has filed a mandamus action with the Ohio 11th District Court of Appeals seeking the right to retire and return to work full time.
Louise O’Grady, deputy bailiff/legal secretary for the judge, filed the action Dec. 29, 2011, but the court ruled this week on matters relating to the action.
The 11th District has not ruled on the underlying issue — which is whether O’Grady can retire/rehire despite a Warren ordinance that says no employee in the city can return to work more than 20 hours per week after retirement under the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.
The action says O’Grady filed an application with the OPERS in November 2010 to retire from her job effective Dec. 31, 2010.
To complete the retire/rehire process, David Griffing, Warren auditor, was required to send a notice to the OPERS indicating that the city had re-employed O’Grady.
But Griffing didn’t send such a notice, so the OPERS voided O’Grady’s retirement application in March 2011, the action says.
Griffing is “obligated by law to sign” the form necessary for her re-employment, and O’Grady asks the court to order him to do so.
“Though Warren has an ordinance which ostensibly prohibits re-employment of retired employees, Warren is not a charter city, and the ordinance cannot supersede state law,” the action says.
“Moreover, Judge Gysegem has the right to order all things necessary for the proper operation of the court, including the re-employment of” O’Grady, the action says.
Judge Gysegem wrote to Griffing in 2011, “insisting” that Griffing certify O’Grady’s rehiring, but Griffing “refused to comply and has refused to discuss the matter with the judge,” the action says.
The action adds that the “bedrock constitutional precept of separation of powers will be seriously imperiled” if officials such as Griffing “are able to control the functions [and therefore the effectiveness] of the judiciary by determining whom the court may employ,” the action says.
On Monday, it ruled that O’Grady remains an active, full-time employee and not retired.
As reported in The Vindicator in January, Griffing, Judge Gysegem, and Greg Hicks, Warren law director, are all collecting retirement benefits through OPERS and earning full-time pay.
Hicks said in January the 1984 ordinance prohibiting city employees from returning to work for the city more than 20 hours per week after their retirement doesn’t apply to elected officials.