A declaration by Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman filed in federal court states Loudoun Sheriff Michael Chapman made a “partially untrue” statement to the court in describing a conversation between the two.
Earlier this month, the attorney for Mark McCaffrey, the former Loudoun detective who is suing Chapman and the county government for wrongful termination asked for partial summary judgment, skipping a trial on certain facts of the case and proceeding directly to determining damages. McCaffrey claims he was not re-sworn in as an act of political retaliation—and that that retaliation followed him after he left the Loudoun sheriff’s office.
Chapman’s attorneys argued against that in subsequent court filings, saying the defendants had not had “adequate time for discovery.” They argue federal court procedures prevents them from “being ‘railroaded’ into summary judgment by a ‘premature motion.’”
“Indeed, Plaintiff has moved for summary judgment before Sheriff Chapman has even answered his Complaint,” Chapman’s attorneys wrote.
Chapman argues that McCaffrey’s actions went beyond merely supporting Chapman’s political opponent in the Republican primary with a yard sign and a vote, and that despite his declarations, McCaffrey “publicly expressed his dislike, disapproval, and criticism of Sheriff Chapman” to fellow officers and at least one crime victim’s family. Chapman’s attorneys also argued that as a lead major crimes detective, McCaffrey effectively had significant policymaking authority—a case Chapman must make to be protected by the doctrine of qualified immunity, which allows constitutional officers to fire employees in policymaking positions for political reason.
In a sworn affidavit filed with those arguments, Chapman recounts a meeting with Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman.
“I advised the [commonwealth’s attorney] that if Mr. McCaffrey was good at his job, he should have no problem getting hired locally by the Purcellville Police Department or the Leesburg Police Department, (LPD),” the affidavit reads. “The [commonwealth’s attorney] stated that McCaffrey might have problems getting hired by the LPD because he would have to take a polygraph examination.”
McCaffrey’s response includes a declaration by Plowman, in which he said that was partially untrue. While he did have a meeting with Chapman after he was reelected in 2015—at the Leesburg IHOP—he says he did not make any statements about McCaffrey or a polygraph.
“During that meeting I did express my displeasure that Mr. McCaffrey was not re-sworn because Mr. McCaffrey was the lead detective in one of the most high-profile murder cases in recent County history,” Plowman wrote, referring to the trial of Braulio M. Castillo, who was later convicted of killing his wife and attempting to stage her death to look like a suicide. “I felt his unexplained dismissal could potentially jeopardize the integrity of the trial.”
However, Plowman wrote: “At no time did I suggest that Mr. McCaffrey might have problems getting hired because he had to take a polygraph. I would have no reason to suggest that, and would have no reason to believe that Mr. McCaffrey would have any issue with polygraphs or any results therefrom.”
Another declaration filed alongside that response adds a second former high-ranking officer to the people filing statements for the plaintiffs. According to his declaration, Marc Caminiti, a 27-year-veteran of the sheriff’s office, recently retired as a captain and second-in-command of the Criminal Investigations Division. His declaration speaks to the control the county government exercises over the sheriff’s purse strings, and adds his voice to those testifying to McCaffrey’s good character. McCaffrey enjoyed consistent glowing performance reviews during his time in Loudoun, according to documents filed in the case.
In early September, a declaration from former Lt. Col. Chris Harmison was also filed in support of McCaffrey’s case. Harmison was one of two chief deputies in the department, second in command to Chapman, and was not resworn at the same time as McCaffrey. Harmison also argued that McCaffrey did not have a policymaking position and that the county contributes the majority of the sheriff’s funding each year and has authority and responsibility for his employment practices.
The case is scheduled for a hearing Friday in federal district court in Alexandria. Chapman and Plowman have not returned calls requesting comment.