Tuesday, April 17, 2012
A private attorney retained by the City of Rialto to conduct an investigation of a firefighter suspected of abusing leave is entitled to qualified immunity, according to a decision issued today by the United States Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Roberts concluded that the fact that the attorney was not a permanent, full-time city employee did not provide a justification for denying qualified immunity:
New York City has a Department of Investigation staffed by full-time public employees who investigate city personnel, and the resources to pay for it. The City of Rialto has neither, and must rely on the occasional services of private individuals such as [the attorney] There is no reason Rialto's internal affairs investigator should be denied qualfied immunity enjoyed by the ones that work for New York.
Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor filed concurring opinions.
The unanimous court reversed the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.(Mike Frisch)