Thursday, June 19, 2014

Supreme Court Rules for Employee in Lane v. Franks

Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court just announced its decision in Lane v. Franks this morning.  In a unanimous decision, the Court held an employee's sworn testimony is not part of his job duties under Garcetti and, therfore, is protected by the First Amendment.  According to the decision of the Court,

Sworn testimony in judicial proceedings is a quintessential example of citizen speech for the simple reason that anyone who testifies in court bears an obligation, to the court and society at large, to tell the truth.That obligation is distinct and independent from any separate obligations a testifying public employee might have to his employer.  

The Court then went on to find that the employee should win under the Pickering/Connick balancing test (although one defendent was held to have qualified immunity).  

The three concurring Justices (Thomas, joined by Scalia and Alito), stressed that this case was easy under Garcetti.  However, they noted that Lane says nothing about the harder set of cases in which employees regularly testify as part of their job.  Another case we can look forward to in the future.


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