Harmon v. Dallas County

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Plaintiff, a former deputy constable, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against defendants, alleging that they violated his First Amendment rights when he was terminated for reporting the illegal acts of the then-Constable and others to law enforcement authorities. Applying Texas law, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims against the county and the Constable in his official capacity as barred by res judicata where plaintiff had previously filed a state court action against the county. The court also affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims against the Constable in his individual capacity based on qualified immunity, because it was not clearly established at the time whether a law enforcement officer's involvement in an investigation with outside law enforcement enjoyed protection under the First Amendment. Furthermore, the Constable was entitled to qualified immunity on the First Amendment's Petition Clause claim where plaintiff's grievance from his termination did not constitute a matter of public concern and plaintiff did not allege that he was treated differently than similarly situated deputy constables. View "Harmon v. Dallas County" on Justia Law