WARREN - A Warren Municipal judge and the city's auditor are poised to testify this morning in an appellate battle over a court employee's right to ''double dip.''
The case - pitting Judge Tom Gysegem against Auditor David Griffing - tests the power of a local Warren ordinance that prevents any city employee from retiring and then returning to work for the city on a full-time basis, collecting both retirement benefits and a paycheck.
Arguments are scheduled in front of Judge Timothy Cannon with the 11th District Court of Appeals.
The city law allows for a retirement and a rehiring for up to 20 hours per week.
Ironically, Gysegem and Griffing are double dipping. Both have retired and were retained by voters to their previous positions. The city law does not affect either official, and state law allows the move known as retire-reelect.
Gysegem, though, is questioning the local law that he says doesn't allow for the separation of powers. He used a comparison last week and pointed out that county commissioners don't tell common pleas judges who to hire. Gysegem said he believes the hiring of a judge's staff is up to the judge's discretion.
The judge points out in a court pleading with the appellate court that municipal court employee Louise O'Grady prepared and filed paperwork with the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System to retire from the court Dec. 31, 2010.
OPERS said the application had been received Nov. 30, 2010, and the agency sent her a benefit recipient form that was supposed to be completed with her employer and returned to OPERS.
On Dec. 8, 2010, O'Grady was sworn in as a bailiff / deputy bailiff in the court, effective Jan. 1, 2011, according to pleadings in the case. But the city never sent in a re-employment form for O'Grady.
''Though Warren has an ordinance which ostensibly prohibits re-employment of retired employees, Warren is not a charter city and the ordinance cannot supersede state law,'' according to a complaint for the writ of mandamus filed by attorney John Juhasz, who represents Gysegem and O'Grady.
Attorney Tom Wilson, who represents Griffing and the city, asks the appellate court for a writ of prohibition, restraining Gysegem from continuing ''the unlawful employment of Louise O'Grady.''
Wilson's complaint says Gysegem's act of re-employing O'Grady on a full-time basis is in violation of Warren City Ordinance 155.10.
''Gysegem has exercised judicial power in violation of the law and has usurped his judicial authority. Unless (Gysegem) is ordered to comply with the (local ordinance) and terminate the employment of O'Grady, his conduct will compound the usurpation of judicial power by his continued enforcement of an unlawful act,'' Wilson wrote.