The Town of North Kingstown filed a motion asking Superior Court Judge Brian Stern to recuse himself in the case due before him Monday morning, where he is to hear dueling motions over the 24-hour shifts imposed on firefighters in 2012.
The R.I. State Labor Relation Board's motion seeks immediate imposition of its ruling from Sept. 27, in which it said the town must restore the previous work schedule. The town's motion seeks a "stay" in that ruling.
On Friday, Council President Liz Dolan explained why they are are seeking the recusal.
"It is our opinion that he has prejudged the case so we don’t think he can proceed in an unbiased manner," she said.
Stern ruled in December 2012 that the Town did not have the right to implement a 24-hour work shift for its firefighters without first negotiating or winning in arbitration, ordering town officials to "unring the bell" on the change.
The town's newest motion said Stern should recuse himself because the Labor Board "relied upon and included in its appendices Judge Stern's decision…." In addition, it referred to the Supreme Court's decision in May granting a stay of Stern's decision.
"The likelihood is he will deny the motion," Dolan said. If that happens, "we note our objection for the record and preserve that as an appealable issue."
If Stern does recuse himself, the hearing set for Monday at 11 a.m. will be postponed, pending reassignment of the case to another Superior Court judge.