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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today

In Robin Allman v. Kevin Smith (SD Ind., Pratt), a 7-page opinion, Judge Posner writes:

The plaintiffs, former employees of a city in Indiana, sued the mayor, and the city itself, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. They claimed that the mayor had fired them because of their political affiliations and thus in violation of their First Amendment rights. The mayor riposted that political affiliation was a permissible qualification for their jobs. The district judge granted summary judgment in favor of the mayor with respect to nine of the eleven plaintiffs, on the ground that his argument concerning political qualification for their jobs was sufficiently arguable to entitle him to qualified immunity. But the judge denied summary judgment with respect to the two other plaintiffs because she didn’t think the mayor’s claim of immunity from their suit arguable, given the differences between their jobs and those of the other nine plaintiffs.

The judge refused to certify for interlocutory appeal her denial of the mayor’s claim of qualified immunity with respect to those two plaintiffs, on the ground that the issue of his qualified immunity involves a question of fact—namely whether he should have known that his conduct was unlawful (if it was). The judge also refused to stay the district court proceedings pending his appeal. The mayor asks us to grant the stay. * * *

The mayor is entitled to a stay because he’s claiming qualified immunity. But is the city entitled to a stay? Or even to ask us for a stay? Can it be considered a party to this appeal? These are the interesting questions, and the answers depend on the applicability of the doctrine of pendent appellate jurisdiction, for it is the only possible ground for the city’s claim to be a party to this appeal. * * *

[much interesting discussion]

It will be the business of the merits panel to decide the mayor’s appeal from the denial of summary judgment regarding the two plaintiffs whom the district judge declined to dismiss. We hereby stay the district court proceedings both against the mayor and against the city.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 20, 2014 01:44 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions