Richard Ceballos Case Summary

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This case examined whether First Amendment “Freedom of Speech” rights applied to government employees when directly correlated to the employee’s official duties. Richard Ceballos, as a calendar deputy in the district attorney’s office, handled some supervisory responsibilities over other lawyers. In doing so, he sometimes was approached by defense attorneys and asked to review and investigate aspects of pending cases. In one such instance, Ceballos was asked to look into a case where the defense attorney had challenged a warrant due to what the attorney felt were inaccuracies in the affidavit used to acquire the warrant. Once Ceballos investigated, he agreed that the warrant was ill obtained. When he contacted the deputy sheriff who filed the affidavit, Ceballos felt the explanation given for the inaccuracies was not consistent with the evidence, so he brought the matter to the attention of his immediate supervisors. In addition to the verbal recount of his findings, Ceballos submitted a disposition memorandum in which he recommended dismissal. After a second memorandum was presented, a meeting, which became quite “heated”, was held to discuss the affidavit. The prosecution …show more content…
In addressing the correlation the lower court made in relation to Pickering, the Supreme Court first had to decide if Ceballos made the speech as a private citizen on a matter of public concern. Ceballos’ memorandum was written pursuant to his duties as a prosecutor, therefore the expectation of the memorandum to be protected under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court also stated that official communications have official consequences. The consequences of Ceballos’ statements were a heated confrontation between interested parties and his jeopardizing a critical part of the prosecutions

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