Sunday, August 14, 2005

Former town treasurer suing Culpeper

One of the Culpeper papers reports here on a First Amendment claim brought against the town by its former treasurer.

For a while, the Fourth Circuit found that qualified immunity was appropriate in a quite a lot of First Amendment cases. See Gillen v. Huggins, 127 F.3d 1099 (4th Cir. 1997) (unpublished) (denial of immunity reversed); Davis v. Carteret County, 121 F.3d 697 (4th Cir. 1997) (unpublished) (immunity affirmed); Scallet v. Rosenblum, 106 F.3d 391 (4th Cir. 1997) (unpublished) (immunity affirmed); Carrington v. Hunt, 105 F.3d 646 (4th Cir. 1997) (unpublished) (immunity affirmed); Conner v. McGraw, 104 F.3d 358 (4th Cir. 1996) (unpublished) (denial of immunity reversed) (“We hold today just as in the area of the Elrod/Branti line of cases, the Pickering/Connick line of cases was, and today is, not much clearer when applied to particularities;” defendant immune); Bishop v. City of Suffolk, 86 F.3d 1148 (4th Cir. 1996) (unpublished) (immunity affirmed); Gamache v. Cavanaugh, 82 F.3d 410 (4th Cir. 1996) (unpublished) (denial of immunity reversed); Dabbs v. Amos, 70 F.3d 1261 (4th Cir. 1995) (unpublished) (denial of immunity reversed); Orga v. Williams, 68 F.3d 460 (4th Cir. 1995) (unpublished) (immunity affirmed); Sizemore v. Aliff, 64 F.3d 659 (4th Cir. 1995) (denial of immunity reversed); Olivo v. Mapp, 57 F.3d 1067 (4th Cir. 1995) (unpublished) (denial of immunity reversed); DiMeglio, 45 F.3d at 793 (denial of immunity reversed); Maciarello v. Sumner, 973 F.2d 295 (4th Cir. 1992) (denial of immunity reversed); but see Robinson v. Balog, 1998 WL 786885 (4th Cir. 1998) (immunity reversed); McVey v. Stacy, 1998 WL 598444 (4th Cir. 1998) (affirming denial of immunity); Myers v. Town of Landis, 107 F.3d 867 (4th Cir. 1997) (unpublished) (affirming denial of immunity); Phillips v. Nielsen, 99 F.3d 1130 (4th Cir. 1996) (unpublished) (immunity reversed).

Even in cases where immunity was denied, the court would sometimes note that this conclusion is rare or that the defendant might yet succeed if it would later present evidence on some element of the defense. See Cromer v. Brown, 88 F.3d 1315, 1326, 1330 n.11 (4th Cir. 1996) (“We believe that Cromer’s is one of the ‘infrequent cases where an employee’s right to speak on a matter of public concern was clearly established. . . [O]ur holding is a narrow one. It is the infrequent Connick claim that will survive a qualified immunity defense”).

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