The opinion of the court was delivered by: MICHAEL MIHM, District Judge
This matter is now before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment [#15] is GRANTED.
Plaintiff, John Williams ("Williams"), was a Supervisor in the
Adult Probation Department of Sangamon County. Williams began his
employment in 1985 as an Adult Probation Officer and was promoted
in 1998 to the position of Adult Probation Supervisor. In his
position as supervisor, Williams was directly responsible for
supervising probation officers, managing probationers, and
conducting pre-sentencing investigations. Williams was also
responsible for managing the probation officers assigned to the
specialized sex offender program. Williams held this supervisor
position until he was terminated on July 1, 2002.
At all relevant times, Defendant Leo Zappa ("Zappa") was
employed by Sangamon County as the Chief Judge of the Seventh
Judicial Circuit of Illinois. As Chief Judge, Zappa had general administrative and supervisory authority over the
Director of the Adult Probation Department and his subordinates.
Defendant Michael J. Torchia ("Torchia") was employed by Sangamon
County as Director of Sangamon County's Adult Probation
Department and supervised all of the employees in the Adult
Williams alleges that Defendants violated his First Amendment
rights when they retaliated against him for: (1) supporting the
unionization of line employees, (2) writing letters to Judge John
Mehlick and Judge Steven Nardulli criticizing recent sentences
handed down by them to individual sex offenders, (3) writing an
electronic mail message in which Williams attempted to persuade
Torchia to change an earlier decision regarding the future
operation of the sex offenders unit of the probation department,
and (4) including comments and opinions about department
management in a Public Service Employment proposal. Williams
argues that the claimed retaliation took the form of a written
reprimand, a three-day suspension, and termination.
As a result of Defendants' actions, Williams filed a Complaint
in this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that Defendants
violated his First Amendment rights because Williams was speaking
out on issues of public concern. Defendants filed a Motion for
Summary Judgment arguing that Williams' speech was not a matter
of public concern, that Williams is not entitled to protection
for his speech, and that even if Williams' speech was protected,
Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. Williams filed a
response to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.
In Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for
Summary Judgment, Defendants deny that they retaliated against
Williams because he supported the unionization of line personnel.
In support of this, Defendants point to the fact that Williams admits that he cannot provide any evidence that Defendant Zappa
knew that Williams supported unionization and that Williams
admitted that Defendant Torchia also supported unionization.
Accordingly, Defendants argue that Williams cannot claim that
Defendants retaliated against him based on his support of
unionization. In his Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment, Williams does not address this
issue. Therefore, he has conceded the issue and the Court will
address the three remaining claims.
A motion for summary judgment will be granted where there are
no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).
The moving party has the responsibility of informing the Court of
portions of the record or affidavits that demonstrate the absence
of a triable issue. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552 (1986). The moving party may meet its burden of
showing an absence of material facts by demonstrating "that there
is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's
case." Id. at 2553. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine
issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2513
(1986); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139, 1142 (7th Cir. 1988).
If the moving party meets its burden, the non-moving party then
has the burden of presenting specific facts to show that there is
a genuine issue of material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.,
Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87,
106 S.Ct. 1348, 1355-56 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e)
requires the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and
produce evidence of a genuine issue for trial. Celotex Corp.,
106 S.Ct. at 2553. This Court must then determine whether there is a
need for trial whether, in other words, there are any genuine
factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of
fact because they may be reasonably resolved in favor of either
party. Anderson, 106 S.Ct. at 2511; Hedberg v. Indiana Bell
Tel. Co., 47 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir. 1995).
Defendants claim that they are entitled to summary judgment
because Williams' speech was not protected speech. Additionally,
Defendants argue that even if the Court finds that Williams
engaged in protected ...