Lane v. Franks First Amendment and Qualified Immunity
Lane was a public employee. He audited the payroll for CACC (i.e. public entity). He reported his findings Re. a phantom employee (i.e. Schmitz). He was warned not to terminate Schmitz’ employment. Lane was fired soon after he testified in the criminal trial. Lane filed a civil action against Franks in violation of his First Amendment Rights. Both the District and Appellate Court found in favor of Franks.
Lane was recognized in his capacity as a public employee. • Lane’s speech was NOT considered as a speech of a citizen on a matter of a public concern. • Lane failed to establish a prima facie case of retaliation.
Based on both Garcetti v. Ceballos, 126 S.Ct. 1951, 1958 (2006) and Morris v. Crow 142 F.3d 1379 (11th Cir. 1998) Lane’s statements were pursuant to his position as a public employee, rather than as a private citizen, therefore his speech had no First Amendment protection. • Franks would be protected under the qualified immunity if he is able to prove that he did not violate any laws by firing Lane.
Next Step • In deciding to hear the Lane case, the U.S. Supreme Court has apparently decided to resolve this split among the circuits on the issue of First Amendment protection for testimony. • http://www.calpublicagencylaboremploymentblog.com/employment/us-supreme-court-will-hear-new-case-on-public-employee-free-speech-rights/
TO BE CONTINUED! Special Thanks to District Courts of Alabama The 11th Circuit The USSC