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Md. assistant attorney general’s firing upheld on appeal

A former Maryland assistant attorney general who was fired in 2012 is not entitled to judicial review of the decision, a Maryland appellate court has held.

Alfreda Cooper claimed her dismissal was due to racial discrimination, according to a complaint filed with the state Commission on Civil Rights. But the commission said in 2015 that its investigation did not find proof of Cooper’s allegation, and it subsequently denied Cooper’s request for reconsideration.

Cooper’s request was sent to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which ultimately upheld the state commission’s findings. While waiting to hear from EEOC, Cooper filed a petition for judicial review of the civil rights commission’s decision in Baltimore City Circuit Court. The civil rights commission and the attorney general’s office sought to dismiss Cooper’s petition on the grounds that Cooper was not entitled to judicial review by the circuit court.

The a circuit court judge agreed and denied the request. Cooper then appealed to the Court of Special Appeals.

“We conclude that no statute, rule or case law authorized the circuit court to entertain A.C.’s petition for judicial review,” wrote Judge Stuart R. Berger for the unanimous three-judge panel on April 28. “In the instant case, (Cooper’s) claim, which is based on claims of race discrimination and retaliation, falls squarely within the subject matter over which the EEOC holds jurisdiction.”

Berger was joined on the reported opinion by Judges Timothy E. Meredith and James A. Kenney, a senior judge sitting by special assignment.

“We believe it was a sound, thorough and correct decision,” said Terrence J. Artis, assistant general counsel in the Commission on Civil Rights commercial nondiscrimination unit, the appellee, along with the Office of the Attorney General.

The appellate court also upheld the lower court’s ruling denying Cooper access to the Commission on Civil Rights’ investigation file for her case. The commission doesn’t have to share that file unless there’s a public hearing on the case, the appellate panel held.

Cooper could not be reached for comment.

The case is A.C. v. Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, et al., No. 322, September Term 2016.


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