LANE v. FRANKS
In 2006, Edward Lane accepted a probationary position as Director of the Community Intensive Training for Youth (“CITY”) program at Central Alabama Community College (“CACC”). He subsequently terminated the employment of Suzanne Schmitz, a state representative who had not performed any work for the program despite being listed on CITY’s payroll. Lane also testified against Schmitz in two federal criminal trials between 2008 and 2009. In January 2009, Steve Franks, the president of CACC, sent termination letters to 29 CITY employees, including Lane, but rescinded the terminations of 27 of those employees within a few days. Lane sued Franks in federal district court and alleged that his termination from the CITY program was in retaliation for his testimony against Schmitz and therefore violated his First Amendment right to free speech. The district court ruled that the doctrine of qualified immunity shielded Franks from liability and granted summary judgment in his favor. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed but declined to reach a decision on the qualified immunity question. Instead, the appellate court held that the First Amendment did not protect Lane’s testimony because it was made pursuant to his official duties as a public employee.
(1)Does the First Amendment protect a public employee’s truthful, sworn testimony that was compelled by subpoena and not a part of the employee’s ordinary job responsibilities?
(2) Does the doctrine of qualified immunity preclude Lane from claiming that Franks terminated his employment in an act of retaliation?