Thursday, March 3, 2016

Police Officer's Termination Upheld Under "Garrity Rule"

Authored by Julie Tappendorf and originally posted on her blog for Ancel Glink covering a variety of local government issues.

In Homoky v. Ogden (7th Cir. 2016), the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently dealt with the "Garrity Rule" which states that incriminating answers given during any examination of a public employee during an internal investigation of the employee’s official conduct cannot be used against him in a criminal proceeding. 

The Hobart Police Department was investigating official misconduct allegations against Officer Homoky and as part of the investigation, demanded that Homoky submit to a voice stress test. The Department informed Homoky it would not use the results in any criminal proceeding, invoking the Garrity Rule. Homoky refused to take the test, however, and the Department ultimately terminated him. He sued, claiming various due process and other constitutional violations, including a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights.

The Seventh Circuit rejected Homoky's arguments, including his allegation that his termination for refusal to submit to the voice stress test violated his Fifth Amendment right to keep silent. The Court held that a police department may, without violating the Constitution, compel a police officer to answer incriminating questions and prohibit him from invoking his Fifth Amendment right when it warns the officer that it will not use the information gained in any future criminal prosecution under the Garrity Rule.