Sheriff and commission head to court

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AUBURN – Lawyers will get their first chance to argue over the authority of Sheriff Guy Desjardins and the Androscoggin County Commission on Friday in a 1 p.m. hearing.

Depending on how arguments go, it could be either the first salvo or the end to the months-long fight.

“If we prevail, it will be all over,” said Jonathan Berry, Desjardins’ attorney.

The sheriff filed suit July 3, accusing the three-member commission of illegally preventing him from appointing a deputy of his choosing.

The complaint included an injunction aimed at speeding up the process, so the position could be filled as soon as possible.

Lawyers for both sides met last week with Superior Court Justice Joyce A. Wheeler. She agreed to hold Friday’s hearing in Auburn.

For months, Desjardins and the commission have squabbled over the new patrol position the sheriff says is vital to the safety of the community. The commission at first balked at creating the new slot, suggesting that an additional officer was not necessary.

In early June, commissioners relented, allowing Desjardins to take applications and hire somebody. But the agreement hit a snag: Desjardins had already taken applications and had decided on Maurice Drouin, a Livermore Falls police officer, whom he wanted to begin patrol at once. The commission wanted the sheriff to begin the search process anew.

The commission is being represented by Auburn attorney Brian Dench. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday about the hearing.

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