Supreme Court affirms adverse action on suspended corrections officer

(file photo)

The Supreme Court of Guam affirmed a final judgment of the Superior Court upholding an adverse action suspending Corrections Officer Eric Santos for 20 days.

Santos was disciplined by the Department of Corrections for engaging in a confrontation with members of the public and for conduct towards a former girlfriend, which all occurred while Santos was off duty.

He challenged the adverse action, arguing that DOC management failed to prove before the Civil Service Commission that his off-duty conduct was employment-related and that the CSC erred in relying on certain documents and testimony.

However, the Supreme Court found that the Guam Legislature provided for regulating peace officer conduct both on and off duty, and corrections officers fall within the definition of “peace officer.”

In addition, the court concluded that the regulations Santos violated were sufficiently related to Santos’s employment and the high moral and ethical standards expected of him as a peace officer.

Finally, regarding Santos’s evidentiary challenges, the Supreme Court found that he waived those challenges that he did not raise before the CSC or in his Petition for Judicial Review.

Regarding the challenges to evidence related to his relationship with his former girlfriend, the Supreme Court found those challenges properly preserved, but the evidence was relevant since the conduct and resulting order of protection formed one basis of the adverse action.