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Eleven Tons Of Gravel In Ex-Girlfriend’s Driveway Leads To Officer’s Termination

Duane Winchell was a deputy sheriff employed by Riverside County, California. Winchell was involved in a romantic relationship with a woman referred to in the Court’s opinion only as “Ms. Keegan.” Early in 2002, Ms. Keegan wanted to break off the relationship; Winchell disagreed and became upset that Keegan was seeing another man. Winchell went to Keegan’s residence on April 5, 2002, saw a vehicle in her driveway that…

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Police Employee Terminated For Misconduct, Not For Alcoholism

Kathleen Nanos was an Office Support Specialist in the Stamford, Connecticut Police Department. Her general job duties included answering phones and serving members of the public who came to the records department. Nanos is an alcoholic. On three occasions in 2004, Nanos’ supervisors communicated with her regarding her use of sick and vacation time. The supervisors expressed concern that Nanos had used all of the time she had accrued…

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Deputy Loses $500,000 Verdict, Wins Retrial

Jay MacKenzie was a deputy sheriff for Rockingham County, New Hampshire. While off duty on the evening of April 23, 2004, MacKenzie went to a bar with a fellow deputy, Christopher Stone. MacKenzie and Stone left the bar and, while in the parking lot, Stone stopped to urinate. A man, later identified as Anthony Kobelanz, approached the two deputies demanding to use a cell phone. Kobelanz’s face was bloody,…

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Civil Service Commission Cannot Change Basis For Discipline

Christopher Parent is a police officer employed by the City of Bellevue, Nebraska. During firearm training on August 28, 2007, Parent had significant problems getting up from one knee throughout the course of the exercise. The City believed that Parent’s excessive weight caused the difficulty with the firearm training. The City eventually terminated Parent for violating the Department’s rules requiring officers to demonstrate appropriate physical endurance and agility. Parent…

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Firing Alcoholic Police Chief Does Not Violate ADA

Charles Budde was the Police Chief for the Kane County Forest Preserve in Illinois. On the evening of March 11, 2005, while off duty, Budde rear-ended another car, damaging his own vehicle and sending the passengers of the other car to the hospital. An investigation ensued. Budde admitted that he was an alcoholic who would drink virtually every evening when he returned home from work until he passed out…

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California Supreme Court Decides Major Garrity Case

The California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Spielbauer v. County of Santa Clara. The first major interpretation of the rule on Garrity v. New Jersey by the California Supreme Court in many years, Spielbauer reverses a lower court decision that had held that a formal grant of immunity is necessary before a public employee may be compelled to give a statement about job-related conduct that has criminal…

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Iowa Police Chief Has No Due Process Rights

Michael Burke was the Police Chief of the City of Evansdale, Iowa. In 2006, allegations of sexual harassment were raised against Burke. The City ended up terminating Burke without giving him a pre-disciplinary hearing. Burke filed a lawsuit, contending that he had a contractual – and thus a due process – right to a pre-disciplinary hearing. Burke argued that the employee handbook covering all City employees was the source…

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Privately-Made Statements About Morale Unprotected By First Amendment

Peter Dahl was a deputy sheriff for Rice County, Minnesota from November 1992 until the fall of 2006. During his employment with Rice County, Dahl was assigned to a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team, served as a firearms instructor, and served on a multi-jurisdictional drug task force. In August 2005, the Sheriff e-mailed Dahl to inquire about a purchase of badges that had been charged to Rice County. The Sheriff’s e-mail…

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Officer Does Not Establish Necessary ‘Perversion Of Process’

Michael Watson was a police officer with the Jamestown, New York Police Department. Watson was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in connection with its investigation of a missing woman with whom Watson had a relationship. The FBI reported to the Department that its investigation revealed that Watson had been stalking women. The Department launched an internal investigation and, after receiving statements from three women, prepared a warrant…

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Officer Terminated For Misconduct, Not Drug Addiction

Bryan Witt was a police officer with the City of Lake Oswego, Oregon. In 2002, a departmental investigation found that Witt was present at a party where others were allegedly using illegal substances. A captain counseled Witt that he should be “wary of his associations since it could impact his career.” In 2005, the Department received information that Witt had attempted to purchase cocaine after a late night visit…

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Intimidating Demeanor Does Not Amount To Interrogation

Richard Correa was a police officer with the City of Inglewood, California. In January 2006, the Department learned of allegations that Correa had had sexual intercourse with a prostitute while on duty. After concluding the rest of its investigation, the Department questioned Correa slightly less than a year after it received the initial information about Correa’s potential misconduct. Following the interview, the Department served Correa with notice of its…

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Criminal Investigation Tolls Statute Of Limitations Even On Non-Criminal Charges

Jerry Lucio was a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. In the course of his duties, Lucio met a woman who had attempted to commit suicide. Two months later, Lucio, who had just broken up with his girlfriend, went to the woman’s residence and began a personal relationship and subsequent intimate relationship with her. After several months, the woman called Internal Affairs, complaining that Lucio had threatened…

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Firefighter’s Failure To Pass Test Does Not Amount To Misconduct

Most unemployment compensation laws in the country, including those in Texas, distinguish between employees who are terminated for “misconduct” and employees who are terminated for other reasons. If the basis for a termination rises to the level of misconduct, the employee is typically not eligible to receive unemployment compensation benefits. A recent case in Texas follows the general trend that failure to pass an employer’s certification test does not…

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Resignation Deprives Officers Of Ability To File Lawsuit

Grant Spinks, Robert Kovacs, and Michael Exley were police officers in Clinton, New Jersey. In 2001, the Police Department conducted an internal investigation based on complaints of malingering by some officers. The investigation revealed that several officers, including Spinks, Kovacs, and Exley, had been idle when they claimed to be working. The Township submitted the ultimate results of its investigation to a County prosecutor, who filed criminal charges. In…

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Asking About Retirement Contributions Does Not Amount To Whistleblowing

Grady Throneberry is a part-time police officer with the City of Audubon Park, Kentucky. At the time of his hiring, the Police Chief explained to Throneberry that additional benefits, including the state “hazardous duty pension plan,” would become available to him if he became a full-time employee. In February 2004, Throneberry accepted a full-time position with the Department. While on duty sometime later, he injured his ankle, and went…

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