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Fired ALJs to keep their jobs for now

Three administrative law judges contesting their dismissals will get at least a couple more weeks to continue at their posts.

Jon Beetem, a Cole County circuit judge, has issued a temporary restraining order against the state in its bid to lay off three administrative law judges. Without such an order, the three men – Henry Herschel, Matthew Murphy and John A. Tackes – would have been forced to leave their positions by tomorrow.

“The Court finds that plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm in the form of the loss their appointments as Administrative Law Judges in the absence of this order,” Beetem wrote in the two-page order issued this morning. Click here to read the order.

Beetem went on to write the defendants in the case – which includes Gov. Jay Nixon, Division of Workers’ Compensation interim director Peter Lyskowski and Nixon chief of staff John Watson – are barred from terminating the three judges or “engaging in any retaliatory actions.”

The order remains in effect for 15 days and could be extended if the plaintiffs show “that a threat of immediate and irreparable injury, loss or damage continues to exist.”

Citing budgetary reasons, Gov. Jay Nixon’s administration dismissed four administrative law judges earlier this month. A position of a fifth judge who retired is not going to be filled. Three of the judges sued in Cole County Court last week in order to keep their positions.