Martin v. Parrish

805 F.2d 583 (1986)

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Martin v. Parrish

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
805 F.2d 583 (1986)

Facts

J. D. Martin (plaintiff), an economics professor at Midland College (Midland) in Midland, Texas, was the subject of complaints from students because of his repeated use of profane language. Martin was warned by administrators that he would be disciplined if he continued to use such language. Subsequently, Martin had an outburst in class during which he used profane language and made several abusive statements, including: “the attitude of the class sucks”; “the attitude is a bunch of bullshit”; and “if you don’t like the way I teach this god damn course there is the door.” Martin was terminated by Midland in a process that involved several administrative steps. Martin filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Midland’s president, Jess Parrish, its vice president, and trustees (defendants), alleging violations of his First Amendment right of free speech, right of due process, and right of academic freedom. Martin argued that his language was profane, not obscene, and therefore was deserving of constitutional protection unless it caused a disruption. After a jury found in Martin’s favor, the district court granted judgment notwithstanding the verdict against him, finding that his speech was not constitutionally protected. Martin appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Jones, J.)

Concurrence (Hill, J.)

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