New Sheriff Beats His Boss in Election, Sues Him for Protecting Crooked Cops

Jan. 28, 2015

Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry's (D) lawsuit against his former boss is underway as the civil jury trial began Monday morning with jury selection at the circuit courthouse in La Plata.

Jurors were presented two witnesses Jan. 26, who testified about Berry's allegations that then-Sheriff Rex Coffey (D) interfered with internal investigations during Coffey's 2006 and 2010 political campaigns and demoted officers who did not support him.

Berry defeated Coffey in the Democratic primary, and ran unopposed in the November general election.

In March 2013, Berry, then an operational patrol commander for the Charles County Sheriff's Office, filed a lawsuit alleging Coffey interfered with internal investigations of officers who supported the former sheriff's 2006 and 2010 campaigns. In addition, the lawsuit alleges Coffey demoted those who supported his opponents, including Berry, who had been promoted in 2006 to the commander of the agency's internal affairs unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility.

Before jury selection Monday, circuit Judge Maureen Lamasney stated that the court would hold the jurors through Jan. 30 for the potential length of the trial.

The trial began Monday afternoon with opening arguments from attorney Matthew M. Bryant, who represents Berry, along with attorney Timothy Maloney.

“We're going to prove Troy Berry was demoted November 2010 by Mr. Coffey because Mr. Berry exercised his right to support [Coffey's] opponent,” Bryant told the 10-person jury. “[The case] is about the fundamental right of an employee to exercise their constitutional rights. At the end of the day, it's about requiring the police to follow the law.”

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