Sheriff’s Race Heats Up in Monterey County

      SAN JOSE (CN) – The deputy sheriffs’ union of Monterey County sued the sheriff, claiming he is unconstitutionally muzzling their speech while he campaigns in uniform, which is against the rules.
     The Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Monterey County sued Scott Miller, personally and in his capacity as sheriff.
     The union claims Miller politicks in uniform, though the county and sheriff’s office have prohibited members of the union from endorsing political issues while identifying themselves as officers.
     Miller is running to for re-election. One of his opponents is Steve Bernal, a sheriff’s deputy.
     “The Sheriff’s Office has warned MCDSA [union] members they cannot even wear clothes that look like Sheriff’s Office uniforms when engaging in such activities,” the lawsuit states. “This policy has unconstitutionally chilled MCDSA members’ First Amendment rights by creating a real danger that MCDSA members will be disciplined for exercising First Amendment rights.”
     Meanwhile, the sheriff has “plastered pictures of himself in full uniform on the website and Facebook page for his re-election campaign and engaged in political activities in uniform,” the union says.
     The union accuses Miller of doing news interviews in full uniform and displaying his badge during campaign events.
     It seeks declaratory and injunctive relief regarding its member’s constitutional rights to due process, equal protection and the First Amendment, and an injunction barring Miller from wearing his uniform while campaigning.
     The union is represented by David Mastagni, with Mastagni Holstedt, of Sacramento.

%d bloggers like this: