On May 17, 2007, Milwaukee County Deputy Sheriff David Hutchins called into a popular talk radio show and made critical comments about his boss, Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.
Clarke then called into the show, called Hutchins a "slacker" and said "Hutchins was bitter and carried a grudge against him" stemming from a 2004 disciplinary action. Clarke then discussed the substance of the disciplinary charges and findings on-air.
Hutchins and the Deputy Sheriff's Association brought federal suit against Clarke for retaliation and numerous state law violations. The district court ruled for Hutchins on the retaliation claims and claims that Clarke violated Wisconsin's public records and privacy statutes.
The Seventh Circuit reversed, finding: "Wisconsin's Open Records Law has no application;" there was no privacy violation "because the information communicated is available to the public as a matter of public record;" and the retaliation claim was "not actionable under § 1983" because "the record demonstrates that Sheriff Clarke's retaliatory conduct in discussing Hutchins' disciplinary history was not accompanied by threat, coercion, or intimidation intimating punishment." See: Hutchins v. Clarke, 661 F.3d 947 (7 Cir. 2011).
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Related legal case
Hutchins v. Clarke
|661 F.3d 947 (7th Cir. 2011)
|Court of Appeals