Legal Defense Fund/Plan
NAPUS LEGAL DEFENSE FUND/PLAN
Adopted Sept. 1, 1992, and revised Feb. 27, 1996; Feb. 15, 2001; Feb. 14, 2002, Sept. 13, 2002 and Nov., 2011.
The National Association of Postmasters of the United States (NAPUS) is committed to representing the membership in all areas, including adverse actions. The Mel Hettenhausen Legal Defense Fund (MHLDF) and Legal Defense Plan (LDP), two of many representation activities, was established by the membership, for the membership, to provide representation to active NAPUS members in appealing adverse actions taken against them. Postmasters receiving notice of an adverse action (defined in ELM Section 651.71) should immediately contact a NAPUS national Postmaster representative. The Postmaster will sign a NAPUS Designation of Representation form and transmit it to the NAPUS National Postmaster representative. The Postmaster representative will assist the Postmaster in making a verbal reply to the charges, pursuant to ELM 651.74, and will begin coordination of the defense with the NAPUS Legal Defense attorney. Generally, the NAPUS legal defense attorney does not become actively involved until a decision letter is issued pursuant to ELM 651.75.
When the decision of the Postal Service in adverse action falls within the jurisdiction of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the Postmaster representative will immediately contact the NAPUS Legal Defense attorney. The sole decision on the scope, extent and means of defense then becomes the responsibility of the attorney, with the agreement of the charged Postmaster. Neither the NAPUS LDP nor the NAPUS Legal Defense attorney will represent a Postmaster in an MSPB matter if the Postmaster has been convicted of or has admitted to a criminal violation or has entered any plea other than not guilty to a directly related criminal charge. The NAPUS Postmaster rep will remain available to provide technical assistance to the defense as requested by any attorney, privately retained by the Postmaster.
In order to be represented by the NAPUS Legal Defense Plan attorney, a Postmaster first must sign the Designation of Representation and Subscription to Appeal form and transmit it to the NAPUS legal defense attorney.
Neither the NAPUS LDP nor the NAPUS Legal Defense attorney can defend a Postmaster charged with a criminal violation in state or federal courts. These situations require a Postmaster so charged to obtain the assistance of his or her own criminal defense attorney to defend against criminal charges.
To be eligible for the MHLDF and LDF benefits, a Postmaster or OIC must be a member of NAPUS for three months prior to the date the alleged conduct or performance deficiency occurred. The three-month period is waived if the Postmaster or OIC becomes a member within 15 days of his or her appointment and the event prompting the adverse action is related to his or her current position.
MHLDF or LDF benefits may be used to appeal adverse actions (defined in ELM 651.71) as follows:
a. Removal—free representation before the MSPB.
b. Suspension of more than 14 days, furloughs without pay, and reductions in grade or pay, NAPUS pays 100 percent for representation to the MSPB.
NAPUS expenses for attorney representation in the LDP will be paid from the designated Legal Defense Fund. Any reimbursements of attorney fees and or costs obtained through either settlement or fee petition will be returned to the MHLDF.
For any decision regarding either the NAPUS LDF or NAPUS Legal Defense attorney representation that may fall outside the scope of these procedures and guidelines, or for further interpretation of these guidelines, a Legal Defense Review Committee (LDRC) will determine the appropriate NAPUS action. This committee will be composed of the NAPUS executive director and four members of the National Postmaster Representation Committee selected by the national president. For approval of MHLDF expenditures, four of the five committee members must concur.
The LDRC may be called upon by request of the Postmaster Rep. to review a proposed settlement. If LDRC members feels the proposed settlement is a fair settlement, and the Postmaster refuses the proposed settlement, than the Postmaster will be required to pay further costs to pursue the case regardless of the outcome.