Deputy Convicted Of Disorderly Conduct Loses Job Pursuant To Brady Act

Stacey Prier was a deputy employed by the Sedgwick County, Kansas Sheriff’s Department. On July 5, 2002, Prier was involved in a domestic violence disturbance with her husband, during which she slapped him. Prier’s husband is a police officer in Maize, Kansas. Prier was charged with domestic violence battery.

In investigating a possible plea bargain, Prier’s attorney contacted several individuals to determine if a conviction for disorderly conduct would cause Prier to lose her ability to be a law enforcement officer. The attorney spoke about the issue with the Sheriff, one or more representatives from the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Commission, and another attorney.

In the end, Prier entered a plea of no contest to and was found guilty of an amended charge of “disorderly conduct by fighting.” The charge of “disorderly conduct by fighting” is different than a normal disorderly conduct charge in that it actually involves conduct that amounts to “engaging in brawling or fighting.”

After her guilty plea, the Department began disciplinary proceedings against Prier. Eventually, the Department terminated Prier in a letter that set forth as reasons only her lengthy disciplinary history and her conviction. The termination letter cited the fact that the Brady Act, 18 U.S.C. §922(g), prohibited a person convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence from carrying a firearm, and that her conviction was being construed as being one of domestic violence.

Prier challenged her termination in federal court, arguing that her conviction did not fit within the provisions of the Brady Act. A federal district court upheld Prier’s termination.

The Court found that the term “brawling or fighting” clearly had the “unmistakable connotations of physical violence.” In the Court’s judgment, such a conviction fell within the prohibitions of the Brady Act, which bar individuals who have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence from possessing firearms. Under the Brady Act, a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence includes a misdemeanor that “has as an element the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon.”

The Court observed that “Prier may have been poorly served in the advice she received or in the representations by various persons that a conviction would not prevent her from carrying out her job. But that advice or those representations cannot bind, alter, or limit the clear application of federal law in prohibiting possession of firearms by persons who have pled guilty to a crime of misdemeanor violence.”

Prier v. Steed, 2005 WL 1162929 (D.Kan. 2005).

This article appears in the July 2005 issue