Though Mayor Sam Adams seems destined to get his wish next Thursday—appealing a state order to reinstate the fired cop who shot and killed Aaron Campbell more than two years ago—legal sources, including the city's top attorney, concede it's "legally possible" that Ron Frashour returns to work next month even while the appeal is pending.
Whether that actually happens is partly up to the state panel that unanimously ordered Frashour's reinstatement in the first place, the three-member Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB). Portland has 30 days from ERB's September 21 ruling to bring Frashour back, and ERB chairwoman Sue Rossiter says the city must ask ERB for a "stay" if it wants to defy that order while the expected court case winds its way through the system.
"That's a decision we would make based on what the parties present us," Rossiter says, referring to the city and the Portland Police Association, which is defending Frashour.
Having Frashour return to work—likely into a non-patrol posting or, perhaps, to be placed directly on paid administrative leave—would present an awkward outcome for Adams and the city commissioners backing him in the court fight. A spokeswoman for Mayor Sam Adams' office hasn't returned a message seeking comment on the possibility.
Update 4:24 PM: The mayor's office suggests speculation on an outcome, at this point, would be premature, noting the mayor has received "preliminary information" regarding the city's legal options and that "we'll discuss it in the coming days."
City Attorney Jim Van Dyke cautions, however, that just because an early reinstatement is "legally possible" doesn't mean that things will necessarily unfold that way. "We're still reviewing that," he says.
So what are the odds? It's tough to say. While one observer put in the high 90th percentile that the ERB decides against a stay, it's also possible ERB might agree—while still ordering Portland to pay Frashour the back pay it owes him, plus interest and any ongoing losses while the city's appeal is adjudicated. That's what the board did, for instance, in a 2008 case (PDF) involving the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees and Josephine County.
The city could also appeal a "no" on a stay just like it's going to appeal the "yes" on reinstatement.
But, says Rossiter, "that's not happened since I've been here."