Dible v. City of Chandler
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
515 F.3d 918 (2008)
Ronald and Megan Dible (plaintiffs) operated a website that hosted sexually explicit photographs of Megan. The Dibles sold access to nude pictures and videos of Megan. The pictures sometimes included Ronald. However, only one photograph showed Ronald’s face. At the time of the website’s operation, Ronald worked as a police officer for the Chandler Police Department (CPD) (defendant) in the City of Chandler, Arizona (city) (defendant). Ronald did not inform the CPD that he operated the website, which he was obligated to do because the operation of the site constituted outside employment. Eventually, members of CPD and members of the press learned about the Dibles’ website. The press began reporting negatively on the website. Police Chief Bobby Harris (defendant) placed Ronald on administrative leave and opened an investigation. When questioned, Ronald provided some misleading answers. The investigation revealed that many officers and other CPD employees felt that the publicity from the website was severely impacting their working situation and cratering morale. Ronald’s supervisor recommended his dismissal, finding that he had violated the department’s rule prohibiting police officers from bringing discredit to the city. The supervisor also found that Ronald lied to investigators during the investigation. After Chief Harris approved Ronald’s dismissal, Ronald appealed to the city’s merit board. Several officers testified about the disruptive effects that the public’s reaction to the website had caused in their roles as police officers. The merit board affirmed Ronald’s discharge. The Dibles brought an action against CPD, the city, and Chief Harris for violation of Ronald’s rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of CPD, the city, and Chief Harris. The Dibles appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Fernandez, J.)
Concurrence (Canby, J.)
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