Appeals Significant Cases

FMG Attorney Michael Hill Secures Affirmance of Summary Judgment in Case Alleging Violations of a Public Employee’s First Amendment Rights

Silvia Cotriss v. City of Roswell, et al., Case No. 19-12747 (11th Cir., June 29, 2022).  FMG Attorney Michael Hill obtained affirmance of a summary judgment award on behalf of the City of Roswell and…

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Silvia Cotriss v. City of Roswell, et al., Case No. 19-12747 (11th Cir., June 29, 2022).  FMG Attorney Michael Hill obtained affirmance of a summary judgment award on behalf of the City of Roswell and its police officers in the Eleventh Court of Appeals after a former city police officer was terminated for flying a Confederate flag at her home.  She filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that her First Amendment right to free speech had been violated.  Mr. Hill  argued that the officer’s display of the flag could impair the City’s ability to effectively run the police department and could diminish the public’s trust in the police.  Applying the balancing test established by the Supreme Court in Pickering v. Board of Education, the Court held that the city’s interest in effective and efficient fulfillment of the police department’s operations outweighed plaintiff’s speech interest.  The Court found that the city has a “clear interest” in maintaining a favorable reputation with the public that could be impeded if members of the public associate the symbolism of the Confederate flag with the police department.

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