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Judge rules against former deputy in Taser suit

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A federal judge has ruled in favor of the Hamilton County sheriff and other officials in a former employee’s lawsuit filed after the employee was fired for refusing to be shocked by a Taser as part of a training session.

Ray Robert worked in law enforcement for nearly 30 years. He began working as a civil deputy process server for the sheriff’s department after his retirement. This was an at-will position. Hamilton County Sheriff Douglas Carter instituted a policy in 2008 requiring all civil deputy process servers to carry Tasers and also required that anyone who would carry one must receive a single one-to-five second exposure to the Taser.

Robert refused, claiming he had a back condition that would not allow it. The sheriff’s department offered him a control room position with similar pay and hours, but the job did not include a department car and other related benefits. Robert eventually declined the job and was fired.

Robert filed his suit, Ray F. Robert v. Douglas G. Carter, individually and in his capacity of Sheriff of Hamilton County, Ind., Hamilton County Council and Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, No. 1:09-CV-0425, in April 2009 in the Southern District of Indiana. U.S. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment May 3.

Robert claimed the defendants failed to exempt him from the Taser training or to provide him with a reasonable accommodation in violation of his rights under the American with Disabilities Act and that his employment was terminated without a hearing in violation of his procedural and substantive due process rights.

Judge Magnus-Stinson found Robert’s inability to participate in the training and consequently his inability to use a Taser rendered him unable to perform his essential job functions, so he didn’t meet the threshold requirement for ADA protection. The Taser exposure requirement, as determined by Sheriff Carter, is essential to the role of civil deputy process server.

The District Court also found that the accommodation Robert received – a position in the control room – was reasonable and Robert doesn’t have the right under the ADA to refuse a reasonable accommodation simply because it was not the one he preferred.

Also, because he was an at-will employee, Robert had no property interest in his employment and therefore no right to a hearing. Robert also didn’t raise an issue of fact sufficient to give rise to a substantive due process claim, wrote Judge Magnus-Stinson.

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  • Safety
    It seems to me that there were other avenues that could have been explored here, like the fact that even Taser warns there are risks associated with it, such as heart failure, etc. I assume the Sheriff doesn't require deputies who carry guns to get shot in the leg to know what it feels like. So requiring everybody to do something that carries with it a risk of serious bodily injury or death as a condition of employment seem luicrous.

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  1. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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