Court Says Cop’s Criticism Isn’t Protected Speech

     CHICAGO (CN) – An Illinois State Police officer was not wrongfully transferred for accusing his superiors of sabotaging his investigation of a cold-case murder, the 7th Circuit ruled.




     Plaintiff Michale Callahan filed a First Amendment retaliation claim against his superiors, Steven Fermon and Diane Carper.
     Judge Ripple ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos determined that the First Amendment did not protect the free speech of a public employee acting in his official capacity.
     Callahan’s investigation indicated that the two men serving life sentences for the murders could not have committed the crime. Callahan then came to believe that the real killer was a man who had made significant contributions to the campaigns of the attorney general and the governor.
     Callahan alleged that when he told Fermon and Carper about the results of his investigation, he was asked to pursue lesser charges against the contributor and to stop investigating the murder because of the case’s political sensitivity.
     After tension became too high in the police department, Callahan was transferred to another precinct.
     The trial court had ruled in favor of Callahan, and the Garcetti decision came down during the defendants’ appeal.

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