Herschel and two other administrative law judges win their court fight -- and their jobs
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 9, 2009 - Three Missouri administrative law judges who had been ousted by Gov. Jay Nixon's administration are getting their jobs back.
Judge Jon Edward Beetem issued a ruling today declaring that the three -- including Henry Herschel, the former chief counsel to former Gov. Matt Blunt -- can't be terminated by the state Division of Workers Compensation "so long as they are otherwise qualified to serve..."
The judge also ordered that the state pay the three judges' legal fees of $39,514.11.
As the Beacon explained two months ago:
The job cuts, which took effect July 1, have drawn some attention because all were appointees of Nixon's predecessor, Republican Matt Blunt. The implication has been that politics may have been involved, especially since one of the law judges is Henry Herschel, Blunt's former chief counsel and one of the figures in the e-mail controversy that embroiled Blunt and Nixon last year.
All told, Nixon's administration cut five of the state's administrative law posts, citing budget problems, in the 2010 budget that went into effect July 1.
But three of the judges filed suit last month, stating that administrative law judges can't be removed by layoffs under the state's statutes. (Of the other two posts eliminated, one person retired and the other opted not to sue.)
John D. Comerford, the lawyer representing the suing juges, said today that the judge's ruling comes after a trial on the merits a couple weeks ago.
Unless the state appeals, the judges can now return to their jobs.