Foul-Mouthed Police Chief Sues Over Hearing Location

A Pennsylvania police chief has filed suit against the borough that wants to fire him over his profanity-laced Internet videos, objecting to the location of a hearing on his termination.

Suspended Gilberton Chief Mark Kessler wants to block the town from holding the hearing in Scranton, some 60 miles away, saying it's too much of an inconvenience for him and witnesses he wants to call.

The borough has started the process of firing Kessler. Under due-process rules for civil servants, Kessler is entitled to call witnesses at a public hearing. His hearing was underway in Gilberton last October when it was halted abruptly after a handgun belonging to one of the chief's supporters dropped to the floor.

For security reasons, both sides then asked to hold a rescheduled hearing at the Schuylkill County Courthouse, but courthouse officials denied the request.

In papers filed in Schuylkill County Court on Monday, Kessler's lawyer, Joe Nahas, said Gilberton is trying to "intentionally prejudice'' Kessler by opting to hold the rescheduled hearing Jan. 24 at the Lackawanna County Courthouse in Scranton. Kessler's witnesses ``do not have the added time nor do they want to be subject to the expense and danger of traveling in the winter months,'' Nahas wrote.

Nahas asked the court to prevent the town from holding the hearing outside Schuylkill County.

Kessler has said his much-watched Internet videos, in which he fired automatic weapons while using foul language, were intended to draw attention to the erosion of constitutional rights. The former coal miner has spoken at gun-rights rallies around the country.

Before it was adjourned, the October hearing focused on allegations that Kessler made improper use of a state purchasing program to buy discounted tires for his personal vehicle and failed to submit crime reports as required under state law. Kessler denies he did anything wrong.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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