14th Amendment rights not violated by voice test

February 25, 2016

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found a man’s 14th Amendment rights were not violated when he was asked to take a voice stress test as part of an administrative investigation into possible wrongdoing as a police officer.

Hobart Police Department Officer Kirk Homoky was under investigation for officer misconduct and ordered to take a voice stress test in November 2012. He received a letter saying the investigation was administrative and any incriminating statements he made would not be used against him in a criminal trial because of the Garrity rule.

On the day of the test, however, Homoky was presented with a document that said, among other things, he was there voluntarily, and that released the Porter County Sheriff’s Department from liability. Homoky did not want to sign it because he was not there voluntarily and wanted to preserve his right to sue the department, which he thought would have been given away had he signed.

Later that year, Homoky filed a complaint against the Hobart Police Department, and the department’s chief and detectives, saying his First and 14th Amendment rights were violated. All defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted. Homoky appealed based on his 14th Amendment rights.

Homoky claimed the attempts to force him to sign the release were attempts to compel him to waive his self-incrimination privileges and remove his Garrity protection, violating his 14th Amendment rights because he only had a choice between signing the document and losing his job.

The court did not agree. Circuit Court Judge Ann Claire Williams said no constitutional violation occurred. Homoky never took the voice stress test and the sheriff’s department wanted him to take test with Garrity protections in place, meaning no self-incrimination had or would have occurred.

Williams said an employee has no right to refuse to take a voice test just because they might give incriminating answers. Also, by refusing to take the voice test, Homoky was justified in receiving any discipline the department gave him.

Homoky tried to introduce a new due process claim against the chief, but because the claim was not reviewed at the district court level, it could not be reviewed at the appellate level.

The case is Kirk Homoky v Jeremy Ogden, et.al, 14-3788


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