In a case handled by NP Attorney Gary Nolan, the Civil Service Commission this week overturned a decision by the Massachusetts Environmental Police not to hire Frank Soleimani who, at the time of his application, was a Westfield Police Officer. Officer Soleimani, a decorated veteran of the U.S. armed services, and who speaks five languages, had an exemplary record as a police officer in Westfield. He was bypassed based largely on an incomplete and error laden background investigation performed by a long-time MEP Officer.
In its decision, a majority of the Commission was highly critical of the background investigator's inaccurate reporting of many facts, his failure to include in his report exculpatory information, and his reliance on rumors and unsworn hearsay statements that were created at his request. The Commission determined that Officer Soleimani was highly credible and, frankly, believed him over the investigator as to facts in dispute. The decision gives good insight into factors considered by the Commission when evaluating a witnesses credibility. The Commissioner wrote:
"I find several reasons to credit Officer Soleimani on this point. First, his testimony before me carried the ring of truth, both in his demeanor and clear percipient recollection of events. He held firmly to his testimony, which, even under cross-examination, was respectful. He refused to characterize others as "lying," preferring to choose the word "misunderstanding," which reinforced my conclusion that he was truly interested in being responsive to questions and sticking to the facts and not digressing into self-service characterizations."
This case is a good teaching point for anyone preparing to be a witness in any case. A witnesses' clear, detailed recollection and respectful manner go a long way when it comes to believability.
Congratulations and Best Wishes to Officer Soleimani, who not long after the hearing in this case, was hired by the MEP and is very happy in his dream job.