Police Department Promotion Policies Did Not Automatically Create Property Right

By Loyd Willaford and Matt Baker

In Mitchell v. Cooper, three police sergeants sued their employer, a police department, for a violation of procedural and substantive due process. They argue that the department violated departmental directives by not notifying qualified applicants of two lieutenant vacancies. The plaintiffs also alleged that they were not considered, and that unqualified candidates were given the jobs. The U.S. Federal District Court for Delaware dismissed some of the sergeants’ claims.

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Sixth Circuit Finds Michigan Police Chief That Deleted Entire Contents of Former Employee’s Laptop Did Not Commit an Illegal Search and Seizure

By: Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Lange v. McGinnis, a Michigan police captain deleted all the files on a former employee’s hard drive before returning it to him. The employee sued the city and the captain alleging an illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. The Sixth Circuit held that the police captain was protected from the suit under qualified immunity because nothing indicated his actions were impermissible. [Read more…]

Federal Judge Rules that Denial of Position with Prospective Law Enforcement Employer Because of Applicant’s Union Activities May Violate First Amendment

By: Jim Cline and Geoff Kiernan

In Walter v. City of St. Peters, a Federal Court Judge in Missouri ruled that a police offer stated sufficiently plausible facts to survive a motion to dismiss his claim that the City, and the individual supervisors within the city, violated his First Amendment rights, when they refused to hire the officer as park ranger, as part of an unofficial policy of retaliating against workers for union activity.

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Probationary Firefighter Trainees Were Entitled To Post-Termination Name-Clearing Hearing Over Claims Of Cheating

By: Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Cortez-Debonar v. Fretwell, two former firefighter trainees sued the city of Las Vegas after they were terminated from the firefighter academy following allegations of cheating. The district court held that the trainees could pursue both their due process and breach of contract claims.

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Arizona Supreme Court Finds Union Release Time Legal Under State Constitution

By: Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Cheatham v. DiCiccio, a majority of the Arizona Supreme Court found that union release time was not illegal under the state constitution’s Gift Clause.

Ninety percent of police officers in Phoenix belong to a police union. Like most collective bargaining agreements, under the Phoenix police union’s collective bargaining agreement, officers are excused from usual police duties, but are still paid by the city, while they perform union activities and conduct union business.

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New Jersey Officers Retaliatory Transfer Charge Following Quota Complaints Fail When Court Finds Poor Performance, Not Complaints, Led to Transfer

By: Jim Cline & Harrison Owens

In Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 1, et al. v. City of Camden, et al., a New Jersey District Court dismissed several officers’ claims that they had been retaliated against, and one officer’s claim that his FMLA rights had been denied by the City. In their complaint, the officers claimed that several defendants had retaliated against them or interfered with their FMLA rights after they spoke out against a “directed patrol” policy. The District Court dismissed all of their claims because the officers failed to show that their poor performance under the policy was not the primary reason for their transfers. The Court also found that there was no evidence that the defendants denied one of the officers his rights under the FMLA or harmed him.

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Second Circuit Finds Connecticut Police Chief’s Retaliatory Acts Were Exercise of His Own First Amendment Rights

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In, Lynch v. Ackley, the Second Circuit found that a police chief was entitled to summary judgment dismissing a police officer’s claim that he was retaliated against for exercising his First Amendment rights. The Court also found that the police chief’s own retaliatory statements were an exercise of her First Amendment right to defend herself.

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Second Circuit Finds Connecticut Police Chief’s Retaliatory Acts Were Exercise of His Own First Amendment Rights

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In, Lynch v. Ackley, the Second Circuit found that a police chief was entitled to summary judgment dismissing a police officer’s claim that he was retaliated against for exercising his First Amendment rights. The Court also found that the police chief’s own retaliatory statements were an exercise of her First Amendment right to defend herself.

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Massachusetts District Court Finds Police Officer Has No First Amendment or Defamation Claims For Speech Concerning City’s Dog Ordinance Laws

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In McGunigle v. City of Quincy, a former Massachusetts police officer filed suit against the City of Quincy, Chief of Police, and Captain. In his suit, the officer alleged that he was wrongfully disciplined, and eventually terminated, by the department for making comments to local news organizations concerning violations of city dog ordinances infringing on his First Amendment Rights. The officer filed an additional claim of defamation against the Chief of Police for statements he made to the local newspaper. The district court found that the department’s interest in maintaining order and obedience of their officers in a public arena outweighed the officer’s interest in speech. The Court further found that the defamation claim failed because the statements did not rise to the level of malice.

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Michigan District Court Finds Police Officer Could Claim Retaliation and First Amendment Violations After Reporting Sexual Harassment

By Erica Shelley Nelson and Sarah Burke

In Jennings v. Wayne County, a Michigan police officer was able to establish a claim for retaliation after she complained about sexual harassment. The district court found that being frozen out of meetings, not receiving backup, and being stripped of her Blackberry could constitute an adverse action. The district court also found the officer had established a First Amendment claim because her complaints about the harassment involved a matter of public concern.

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