Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Garcetti v. Ceballos case brief

Garcetti v. Ceballos case brief summary
126 S. Ct. 1951 (2006)

Respondent employee sued petitioner supervisors under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983, alleging retaliation in violation of the First Amendment. The district court granted the supervisors summary judgment. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, finding that the employee's allegations of wrongdoing in a memorandum constituted protected speech under the First Amendment. Certiorari was granted.


  • The employee worked as a deputy district attorney for a county district attorney's office. 
  • The employee wrote a disposition memorandum explaining his concerns regarding alleged inaccuracies in an affidavit used to obtain a search warrant in a pending criminal case. 
  • The employee was also called by the defense to recount his observations about the affidavit. 
  • The employee alleged that his supervisors retaliated against him based on his memo. 
  • The employee did not dispute that he prepared the memo pursuant to his duties as a prosecutor. In finding that the employee's speech was protected, the appellate court did not consider whether the speech was made in his capacity as a citizen.

The Court determined that the employee's allegation of unconstitutional retaliation failed because he was not speaking as a citizen for First Amendment purposes since he made the statements pursuant to his official duties. The employee did not speak as a citizen by writing a memo that addressed the proper disposition of a pending criminal case. The First Amendment did not prohibit managerial discipline based on the employee's expressions made pursuant to official responsibilities.

The Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court and remanded the case for further proceedings.

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