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7th Circuit: No First Amendment rights violation

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld summary judgment in favor of a northern Indiana school board regarding prior restraint and First Amendment retaliation claims made by a teacher.

In Gregory G. Samuelson v. LaPorte Community School Board, et al., No. 06-4351, Gregory Samuelson filed an action under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 against his employer LaPorte Community School Corporation (LSC), alleging violations of the First and 14th Amendments, and the Indiana Constitution, following his removal by the school board as coach of the girls' varsity basketball team.

Samuelson claimed his contract as coach was not renewed because he publicly expressed his views about issues relating to the school without following the school's bylaws for chain-of-command policy.

Both parties filed for summary judgment on the claims; Samuelson's response abandoned his 14th Amendment and Indiana Constitution violation claims. The U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, granted summary judgment in favor of the school corporation.

The 7th Circuit affirmed the ruling, finding Samuelson's First Amendment rights were not violated because the school corporation's chain-of-command policy doesn't constitute prior restraint because it doesn't restrict speech protected by the First Amendment. The speech addressed in the policy is speech grounded in the public employee's professional duties and is not protected, wrote Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook.

Samuelson couldn't present concrete evidence to show his contract as basketball coach wasn't renewed as a result of his circumventing the chain-of-command policy on various school-related issues, so summary judgment on his claim in favor of LSC was correct, wrote Chief Judge Easterbrook.

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  1. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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