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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Federal Court Rules Workers Have No 1st Amendment Rights, Dumps Corruption Lawsuit

Suit by Officer Who Complained of Alleged Quotas Is Rejected
The New York Law Journal by Mark Hamblett - April 16, 2012

A Bronx police officer who alleged he was punished for complaining to his superiors that his precinct maintained a quota system for arrests has lost his First Amendment lawsuit. Southern District Judge Barbara Jones ruled that Craig Matthews did not engage in constitutionally protected speech when he alleged that the 42nd Precinct had a strict quota system mandating a target number of arrests, summons and stop-and-frisks. Matthews said he brought the quota system to the attention of commanding officers on four occasions, only to be given "punitive assignments" such as foot patrols and prisoner transport. He also claimed he was denied overtime and leave; was separated from his longtime partner; and was "targeted for humiliating treatment." The New York Police Department denied the use of the system and moved to dismiss his action under 42 U.S.C. §1983. Judge Jones granted the motion in a 12-page decision released on April 12, finding that Matthews was not speaking as a citizen when he complained, but was speaking pursuant to his duties as an officer. Christopher Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union is expected to file an appeal on Matthews' behalf. William Fraenkel, of counsel to the city's Law Department, represented the defense in Matthews v. City of New York, 12 CV 1354.
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FEDERAL COMPLAINT, Matthews v. City of New York(SDNY 12civ1354)

Related Story:

U.S. Judge Rejects Officer’s Lawsuit on Quotas
The New York Times by Matt Flegenheimer - April 12, 2012
A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit that accused a Bronx police precinct of using a strict quota system for arrests and of punishing an officer who complained about it, rejecting the officer’s argument that he was protected under the First Amendment. The lawsuit, filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the officer, Craig Matthews, contended that officers were required to produce a minimum number of arrests, summonses and street stops each month. Officer Matthews, a 14-year veteran from the 42nd Precinct, said that the system, which included color-coded charts to track the performance of officers, created divisions within the precinct and that his complaints about it led to punishments, like undesirable assignments and the loss of overtime hours. On Thursday, a United States district judge, Barbara S. Jones of the Southern District of New York, said Officer Matthews’s complaint “was made pursuant to his job duties and is therefore not protected by the First Amendment.” The civil liberties group plans to appeal. Its associate legal director, Christopher T. Dunn, said, “The court’s ruling that police officers have no First Amendment protection when they disclose serious police misconduct not only betrays the Constitution, but is also disastrous for the public’s ability to learn about hidden police scandals.” Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department, said in an e-mail that the ruling “speaks for itself.” The case turned in large part on a question of “citizen versus employee speech,” Judge Jones wrote. The city argued that Officer Matthews had spoken “pursuant to his duties as a police officer” and as a public employee, Judge Jones said, noting that Officer Matthews was voicing concern about executing his duties properly; that he spoke only to his superiors, in the workplace itself; and that the discussions concerned only the substance of his job. Officer Matthews, who sought in the suit to end the retaliation and to be awarded money, contended that his speech was more nuanced. He said he was complaining not only that arrests and summonses were being executed illegally, Judge Jones wrote, but also about the quota system itself and its “impact on the management of other officers, the precinct and the community.” But, Judge Jones wrote, even accepting Officer Matthews’s characterization, his speech was still job-related and not subject to First Amendment protection. For years, police officials have denied the existence of strict quota systems, but they have said that supervisors can establish minimum productivity goals for officers. Mr. Browne has said that the color-coded charts in the precinct were an indicator of enforcement activity, not of a quota system. Al Baker contributed reporting.

Related Story:

Judge shoots down Bx. 'quota cop' 1st Amendment lawsuit
The New York Post by Jamie Schram, Police Bureau Chief - April 13, 2012

A judge has shot down a federal lawsuit by a Bronx cop claiming that his First Amendment rights were violated because his superiors retaliated against him for complaining about quotas. Southern District Judge Barbara Jones ruled that veteran officer Craig Matthew’s speech was not protected by the First Amendment because he was discussing job-related issues as a public employee and not a private citizen. “The judge made a well-reasoned decision, and we are pleased the court dismissed the lawsuit,” NYC Law Dept. Senior Counsel William Fraenkel. Matthews was assigned to the 42nd Precinct in Tremont, which he claimed required quotas for arrests, summonses and street stops. On four occasions, he notified commanding officers about the quota system being used by mid-level superiors, according to court documents. He also whined that his First Amendment rights were trampled on by his supervisors, who allegedly retaliated against him by giving him punitive assignments and cutting his overtime. Matthews was even the subject of “humiliating treatment by supervisors” and was handed negative performance evaluations for complaining about alleged quotas, the papers charge.

Background Story:

Bronx Police Precinct Accused of Using Quota System
The New York Times by Al Baker - February 23, 2012
A police station house in the Bronx has a strict quota system that requires officers to produce a minimum number of arrests, summonses and street stops each month, a civil rights group claims in a federal lawsuit that contends the system has turned officers against one another. So regimented are the demands for numbers that supervisors in the 42nd Precinct began keeping color-coded charts to track officers’ productivity, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Black ink used on those charts — known as officer activity reports — means that an officer is meeting quotas; silver ink means that only some of the quotas are being met; and red ink denotes officers’ meeting no quotas at all, according to the lawsuit, which the New York Civil Liberties Union filed on behalf of Officer Craig Matthews, a 14-year veteran. Officer Matthews contends that the quota system has created animosity among officers at the station house. Since December, an officer has been posted at the locker room to keep officers who oppose the system from damaging the lockers of those who hew to it. This assignment is among the odder ones. And it is often a busy one, according to the complaint. Lockers have been flipped and plastered shut, said Christopher T. Dunn, of the civil liberties group. Some, he said, have been dislodged and hauled off to the showers, where they have been drenched in water. Police officials have consistently denied the existence of a quota system in the department, but have said supervisors can establish minimum productivity goals for officers. Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department, said the color codes did not represent a quota system but were an indicator of enforcement activity in three areas — arrests, criminal summonses and stops for suspicious activity — used to measure police productivity. “Police managers are doing what their jobs demand and the public expects, supervising employees,” he said in an e-mail. The suit claims that Officer Matthews was subjected to a campaign of retaliation and harassment after he first told his precinct commanders in 2009 of the pressure that the quota system placed on officers. The system was honed so that, according to Mr. Dunn, Officer Matthews said supervisors made clear what minimum numbers were expected of each officer in a given 30-day period: 15 summonses, 1 arrest and 2 street stops. “Officers in the precinct are constantly pressured to meet the quotas,” according to the suit, “and those that do not meet them are subject to punishment including undesirable assignments, the loss of overtime, denial of leave, separation from partners and poor evaluation.”Officer Matthews, the lawsuit says, was subjected to those penalties and given risky assignments after his complaints met resistance from higher-ups. Officer Matthews is seeking to end the retaliation for speaking out about the quota system, as well as to be awarded money.


victim of corruption said...

Hey, who needs 1st amendment rights when corruption has completely taken over and you live in a communist state?!?

Constitution?!? LOL

Anonymous said...

so how did this judge become a judge?
how do we get judges that don't protect citizens?
how do we get judges that don't protect the u.s. constitution?
how do we get judges that don't go against corruption?
how do we get judges who don't protect brave members of law enforcement who speak up?
most importantly- how do we get rid of judges like this judge?

Anonymous said...

This story is misleading. It's not the 1st Amendment. It every Amendment and the rest of the Constitution too that they ignore.

shocked said...

I just read the complaint.

The first line says it all: This is a civil rights action to vindicate the right of [a person] ... to speak out against illegal [actions] without facing retaliation.

Shame on this judge. And shame on those who don't rise up and join the fight against injustice and the ignoring of our U.S. Constitutional Rights- especially by FEDERAL JUDGES !

Anonymous said...

Justice is political..political..political..follows no laws and greases many hands..end of American judicial process..appplies everywhere.
I know I worked with them!

Anonymous said...

The criminal is the judge who is part of a conspiracy in the Federal courts to deny constitutional rights under #1983. there should be no judicial immunity for such crime. The people arrested to meet the quotas, also lose rights.

Anonymous said...

They gave themselves immunity. There is no law or constitutional provision that gives them that right.

Anonymous said...

Ray Kelly fixed this coverup, with a little help from some friends

Anonymous said...

No surprise here. The ACLU will appeal . Meanwhile the light of day should keep on shining on this case so the corrupt judges won;t stick their collective corrupt heads out and rule against common sense and the constitution.These judges know what side their bread is buttered. Reminds me of Supreme Court judge Scalia ,who was appointed by pappa Bush ,stopping the vote count in favor of sonny boy Bush . The whole country is corrupt and dishonest . If your of that elk you succeed in this system .If your decent and honest ,take your marbles and go home.

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Blog Archive

See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2
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