Garcetti v. Ceballos

547 U.S. 410 (2006)


Ceballos (P) has been employed since 1989 as a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County. P exercised certain supervisory responsibilities over other lawyers. A defense attorney asked P to investigate aspects of pending cases. After examining the affidavit and visiting the location, it described, P determined the affidavit contained serious misrepresentations. P spoke on the telephone to the warrant affiant, a deputy sheriff from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, but he did not receive a satisfactory explanation for the perceived inaccuracies. P relayed his findings to his supervisors, Najera and Sundstedt, and followed up by preparing a disposition memorandum. P recommended dismissal of the case. Despite P's concerns, Sundstedt decided to proceed with the prosecution, pending disposition of the defense motion to traverse. P was called by the defense and recounted his observations about the affidavit, but the trial court rejected the challenge to the warrant. P then assigned from his calendar deputy position to a trial deputy position, transferred to another courthouse, and denied a promotion. P initiated an employment grievance, but the grievance was denied. P sued alleging violation of his First and Fourteenth Amendments by retaliating against him based on his memo of March 2. Ds claimed that no retaliatory actions were taken against P and that all the actions of which he complained were explained by legitimate reasons such as staffing needs. They also stated that the memo was not protected speech under the First Amendment. Ds moved for summary judgment, and the District Court granted their motion. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed. It determined that P's memo, which recited what he thought to be governmental misconduct, was “inherently a matter of public concern.” The Supreme Court granted certiorari.