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Cypen & Cypen
NEWSLETTER
for
DECEMBER 4, 2003

Stephen H. Cypen, Esq., Editor

Never Forget - September 11, 2001

1. HERO COP BECOMES LAWYER:
Most readers know the story of Jim O’Hara, a Plantation Department Detective who rushed into a burning house in response to an emergency call. He nearly died, suffering burns on 80% of his body. He was hospitalized for six months, spent another three months in rehab and endured 25 operations over the next three years. Most doctors did not believe O’Hara would survive, but he proved them wrong. Now, at 41, having received his law degree cum laude last December, O’Hara has embarked on a new career as an attorney. His specialty? Personal Injury. “As a police officer, I wanted to help people. In particular, those who could not help themselves. As a personal injury attorney, I have another opportunity to help people, and to fight for what has been taken from them.” O’Hara was quoted in a touching story in the Florida Bar News.

2. DISMISSAL OF DEPUTY SHERIFFS’ SUIT AGAINST SHERIFF FOR FIRST AMENDMENT AND DUE PROCESS CLAIMS AFFIRMED, BUT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND FORMER:
Deputy Sheriffs who were transferred by newly-elected Sheriff from their probationary lieutenancies back to their previous positions sued him, alleging First Amendment and due process clause violations. Their support for the incumbent Sheriff, who was defeated, only demonstrated loyalty and support and were nothing more than bare statements of support for a candidate. Thus, the United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of First Amendment claim, but did grant leave to amend (even though leave to amend was never sought in the district court below). The deputies also claimed violations of (a) substantive due process, (b) property interest and (c) liberty interest. In affirming dismissal of these claims with prejudice, the appellate court held (a) employment rights are state-created and are not fundamental rights created by the constitution, so they do not enjoy substantive due process protection; (b) as a matter of law, the deputies were probationary employees, having no right to rank as lieutenants until, at least, they had served their one-year probationary period; and (c) the Sheriff’s transferring the deputies back to their previous rank during the probationary period does not provide the additional loss of tangible interest required for a liberty interest claim. Silva v. Bieluch, Case No. 01-15721 (U.S. 11th Cir., November 25, 2003).


Copyright, 1996-2004, all rights reserved.

Items in this Newsletter may be excerpts or summaries of original or secondary source material, and may have been reorganized for clarity and brevity. This Newsletter is general in nature and is not intended to provide specific legal or other advice.


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