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At Last, A Ruling From MSPB

September 21, 2006 - AT LAST!  Chief Chambers can finally appeal her case to a Federal Appeals Court.  The three-member Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), bitterly divided over the outcome in this case, published a decision in Chief Chambers’ case today. 

Two members of the Board (the Chairman and Vice Chairman) voted to support Chief Chambers’ termination, while the remaining member wrote a vigorous dissent.  In fact, the dissenting member concluded her written opinion by stating, “. . . I would sustain none of the agency’s charges and specifications, and I would find that the appellant’s removal, her placement on leave, and the order restricting her contact with news media constituted reprisal in violation of [federal law].” 

 In contrast to the 36-page detailed dissenting opinion, the long-awaited majority decision was just over 23 pages in length and spoke in generalities, ignoring many of the 48 legal errors raised in Chief Chambers’ Petition for Review filed with the Board in December 2004. 

 In reading the decision, it is apparent that the only member of the board who read the entire Petition for Review and the supporting evidence was the dissenting member.  It also becomes increasingly apparent that the majority members simply took the Administrative Judge’s decision at face value.

 Although this decision is disappointing news, it is not unexpected.  In fact, it is a positive step in that it allows Chief Chambers to take her case into federal court, where it has needed to be from the start. You may recall that Chief Chambers and her legal team were prohibited from taking this case to federal court until the administrative remedies had been exhausted.

While Chief Chambers’ team prepares for this first step in federal court, take some time to read the Press Release from PEER and the actual Opinion and Order from the MSPB issued today.  Pay particular attention to the dissenting opinion and take comfort in knowing that at least one member of the board takes her position seriously.


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