Former Chief Deputy Rob Cordero of the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office, who was fired Feb. 12, is looking to clear his name, according to his lawyer.
Mary Huber, an employment law attorney based in Decatur, said Cordero would make a demand for an administrative hearing.
"If you’re going to discharge someone at will, you cannot make characterizations about their conduct that are stigmatizing, that bear consequences, without a full public hashing out of the events," said Huber. "If your good name is smeared, you can't go out and about and get a job."
"This sheriff threw down the gauntlet. My client's going to pick it back up," she said.
In his letter of termination, Sheriff Jeff Wigington said that Cordero had been placed on administrative leave with pay on Feb. 2 for violation of a policy that states "A deputy will not fraternize or associate himself in a personal, social or financial relationship with any person(s) of questionable character."
Huber contends the policy against associating with persons of "questionable character" is too vague. "Who is a person of questionable character and who gets to decide this? That's a bogus rule, and that's not the type of judicial system we have. We have a judicial system based on clear notice." She said she would be presenting expert testimony on that.
The termination letter went on to say that after being placed on administrative leave and ordered to turn in his Blackberry, identification, keys and equipment, Cordero reportedly contacted the county MIS department on Feb. 3 and went to their offices on Feb. 4 to access information on his Blackberry and "remote" access his county computer, against policy.
MIS director Dax Thompson issued a letter to county administrators that Cordero did contact the MIS department to try and retrieve his contacts but did not have remote access to his computer.
Wigington said he stood by his original statement. "I think it’s appropriate to wait for the facts to be brought out."
A date for an administrative hearing has not been set.
Cordero, who had been with the county for 16 years, had been appointed as Chief Deputy, or the second in command at the RCSO, in 2006 and was a sergeant in the jail division before being appointed.