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I think my civil rights have been violated!!!


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  • I think my civil rights have been violated!!!

    I need help. My husband and I are both Deputies for the same agency. I was TOLD to come in and give a taped interogation against my husband. I said (Quote,Unquote)," Wait a minute. What are my rights as a spouse?" The detective said," You don't have any rights. You work for the county. Besides, this isn't criminal and he can't be fired." I tried to call my Sgt. and Lt. ( you know, the whole chain of command thing) I couldn't get a hold of anyone, so I went in. I was never given rights, or Garity. To make a long story short, he was written up approx. 6 months after that for that incident. After several other incidents, he went to Human Resources to file a Hostile Work Environment complaint, and to let them know that we were thinking about an attourney. I had gotten permission from my Sgt. to talk to them about my rights as a spouse. I was pulled into the Lt.'s office and YELLED at for filing a hostile work environmet complaint and that the Sheriff, Undersheriff and and Lt. were very upset. I tried to explain my situation. We both feel like that if any one of us make one small move we are done. I am wondering if I have a case against my agency? I am tired of it. Oh, I was also told that Garity was to protect the administration, not the Officer. HELP!!!!

  • #2
    I think you should stop thinking about the attorney and go get one instead and have them advise you of your rights and obligations to the county.
    No partner is worth your tears -
    the one that is won't make you cry. - Anonymous

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    • #3
      Originally posted by RachelR:
      I think you should stop thinking about the attorney and go get one instead and have them advise you of your rights and obligations to the county.



      • #4
        You ARE a member of PBA.....riiiiight?
        "When you guys get home and face an anti-war protester, look him in the eyes and shake his hand. Then, wink at his girlfriend, because she knows she's dating a *****."
        -Commanding General, 1st Marine Division


        • #5
          The common law actually provided two spousal privileges. These have been codified in most states. Because the nuances might vary from state to state, I recommend that you discuss the issue with a competent labor/ employment law attorney in your area. Perhaps your union can direct you to such an attorney.

          As I recall, the Garrity case was intended to protect the officer's 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. If there was no possibility of criminal culpability, the investigators may not have been required to give a Garrity warning. The case is Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493 (1967) if you want to look it up.


          • #6
            I suggest reading that well-known book "Police Officer's Rights" (or something close). I think they can compel you to make a statement as a condition of employment even agaisnt your spouse if it's not a criminal issue. I believe the spouse thing is only for criminal matters. They don't HAVE to advise you of your Garrity rights. Those rights are for YOU to invoke! Shame on you for not knowing what they are. Anyway, they wouldn't have helped you anyway in this case. Garrity rights simply mean that when you are forced to make a statement as a condition of employment, they can't use what you say in a criminal proceeding against you except under a couple circumstances. While most police administrators will advise you of Garrity when appropriate, they don't have to. As far as the hostile work thing, I'd start recording your convesations with your bosses when they call you into the office to yell at you for exploring your legal options. I'd also get a good lawyer. What state are you in?

            [ 01-26-2003, 10:57 AM: Message edited by: Frank Booth ]


            • #7
              About the only thing I can see that you have on your side is the part about being yelled at by members of management for filing a hostile work environment complaint. Depending on what was said, you COULD have something here, especially if they tried to talk you out of it by threatening to do something to you or your husband (retaliatory acts).

              As far as being advised of your rights, that may not apply in your case if the intent was administrative only and not criminal. Your state may or may not have the protections guaranteed under California's Peace Officer Bill of Rights. Garrity only protects you in that anything said under such proceedings is considered "under duress" since you are being ordered to talk or face disciplinary action up to and including termination. This makes any resulting statements inadmissible in any CRIMINAL proceedings against you, but not civil proceedings like an administrative inquiry. It's basically an extension of Miranda.

              The best course of action is to talk to a local POA rep (if any) and an attorney that specializes in this sort of thing.


              • #8
                In most cases I have delt with, you can be ordered to make statements as long as they do not either incriminate you or anyone else. If a non criminal investigation were being conducted, you are compelled to provide statements or evidence when requested. However, that does not give your Sgt or Lt. to provoke a hostile work environment. I certainly hope that you are a member of the PBA. If not, join now. I would also consider looking into another agency.
                "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."
                Thomas Jefferson


                • #9
                  This is not the right forum for legal advice. Contact a labor attorney in your state that is experienced with peace officer rights.

                  This one got me thinking about CA law so I did a little digging. It looks like here in CA you could be compelled to answer questions in this situation involving your co-worker husband. Our Peace Officer Bill of Rights does not give witness officers the right to remain silent nor does it address the issue of spouses.

                  There is a right in the CA evidence code that a person cannot be compelled to testify in court court against his/her spouse :

                  970. Except as otherwise provided by statute, a married person has a privilege not to testify against his spouse in any proceeding.

                  971. Except as otherwise provided by statute, a married person whose spouse is a party to a proceeding has a privilege not to be called as a witness by an adverse party to that proceeding without the prior express consent of the spouse having the privilege under this section unless the party calling the spouse does so in good faith without knowledge of the marital relationship.

                  Sounds like our Evidence code would not get you out the questioning but would get you out of any kind of evidentiary hearing that might occur later.
                  If you see me running try to keep up!


                  • #10
                    I reviewed the California Evidence Code. The two spousal privileges are applicable outside of court procedings. For example, the privilege in section 970 is applicable "in any proceding." The privilege in section 980 says that the spouses have a "privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent another from disclosing" communications between two spouses.

                    My evidence class in law school discussed both spousal privileges as they existed under the common law. The language in the California Evidence Code appears to be an effort to codify the common law privileges. I suspect that the law is similar in your jurisdiction but don't know for certain.

                    [ 01-30-2003, 12:36 AM: Message edited by: Underdog ]


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