A Montgomery County judge yesterday heard attorneys argue over the fairness of the controversial firing of former county police chief Robert J. DiGrazia.
Circuit Court Judge Philip M. Fairbanks indicated that he would consider whether DiGrazia was entitled to an appeals hearing after he was dismissed last month by incoming Montgomery County executive Charles W. Gilchrist.
Under court rules, Fairbanks has 60 days to make his ruling.
DiGrazia's attorney, Peter Davis, argued yesterday at the one-day hearing that Maryland state law requires that any police officer who is dismissed is entitled to a hearing before a formal police trial board.
Arguing for the county executive, Assistant country attorney Richard Frederick said Gilchrist was merely exercising his prerogative in choosing not to reappoint diGrazia to the top police post.
"Our contention is there has been no disciplinary action taken," Frederick said.
Gilchrist felt that diGrazia was not the right person to head the police department under his administration," Frederick said.
DiGrazia, whose flamboyance and outspokenness often made him the center of controversy, found himself at odds with his officers last November, when he stated at a public forum that most police officers "see the community as the enemy."
At the time of the Dec. 8 dismissal, Gilchrist cited this statement as evidence that diGrazia was "no longer effective" as police chief.
The attorneys for both sides spent much time yesterday arguing the semantics of whether or not diGrazia was fired -- which could indicate a disciplinary action -- or whether Gilchrist simply failed to reappoint diGrazia.
Yesterday's court hearing marked the first public appearance of diGrazia since the dismissal. He wore a three-piece brown suit, with his famillar lapel pin in the shape of a pig.
Sporting a new bushy mustache, he smiled and greeted reporters who had covered his tenure as chief, but refused to make any comment on his case. He said he has been teaching a course in criminal justice at night at the Antioch School of Law in Washington.
He will continue to receive his $58,000 a year salary until March 1.