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Vose v. Kliment

March 8, 2007

RONALD VOSE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DONALD KLIMENT, CHIEF OF POLICE OF THE CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY; AND WILLIAM ROUSE, DEPUTY CHIEF OF POLICE OF THE CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeanne E. Scott, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Donald Kliment and William Rouse's Motion to Dismiss (d/e 17). The Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the Defendants' Motion is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Ronald Vose has filed a two-count Complaint (d/e 1), alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on injuries resulting from deprivations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. In Counts 1 and 2, Vose contends that Defendants retaliated against him for exercising his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech in violation of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. On Defendants' Motion, the Court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations contained in the Complaint and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Hager v. City of West Peoria, 84 F.3d 865, 868-69 (7th Cir. 1996); Covington Court Ltd. v. Village of Oak Brook, 77 F.3d 177, 178 (7th Cir. 1996). The allegations set forth in the Complaint are as follows. Defendant Kliment is Chief of Police in the Springfield Police Department (Department). Defendant Rouse is Deputy Chief of Police in the Department. In that capacity, Rouse is responsible for overseeing the Department's investigations division. Defendant Rouse reports to Assistant Chief of Police Ralph Caldwell and to Defendant Kliment.

At all times relevant to this case, Plaintiff Ronald Vose was a police officer in the Department. As of 2004, Vose was a 26-year veteran of the Department with over 13 years of narcotics related experience. In July 2002, Vose was promoted to Sergeant in the narcotics unit of the Department. Vose was a supervisor of the narcotics unit and reported directly to Lieutenant David Dodson, who in turn reported to Defendant Rouse.

Sometime before the summer of 2004, Vose learned that several detectives in the major case unit, which was separate from the narcotics unit, "were using alleged drug investigations as a means to gather evidence by allegedly searching the trash from a specific residence or specific location in order to have a lawful basis to obtain search warrants for the specific residence or specific location. This search technique was and is commonly referred to as 'trash rips.'" Complaint, ¶ 16.

Vose became concerned that this practice could not only potentially compromise on-going drug investigations being conducted by the narcotics unit, but also increase the lack of coordination between the activities of the major case unit and the narcotics unit. Based on these concerns, Vose reviewed various search warrant applications previously prepared by the major case unit detectives and the corresponding warrants issued by judges based on such applications. Following his review, Vose learned that the major case unit detectives were: (1) failing to follow the Department's proper procedures for obtaining search warrants; (2) violating laws applicable to the search warrant process; (3) filing factually inaccurate, misleading, or false affidavits with the courts in support of their applications for search warrants; (4) claiming the use of confidential sources who had not been registered with the Department in accordance with established practices of the Department; (5) using the information obtained from these confidential sources as the basis for search warrant applications prepared by the detectives; and (6) using the obtained searched warrants for purposes of gathering information on drug investigations even though no such drug investigations were being undertaken by the narcotics unit. Vose also became concerned that "the drug investigations were pretextual, were not always based upon probable cause and were apparently being used for purposes of obtaining information related to other crimes for which there was no basis to obtain a search warrant." Complaint, ¶ 22.

Vose aired his concerns to his immediate supervisor, Dodson, as well as to Defendants Rouse and Kliment. Defendant Kliment assured Vose that the matter would be addressed. Neither Defendant Kliment nor Defendant Rouse, however, did anything to address the matter. In the fall of 2004, Vose continued to express his concerns about the improper way in which the major case unit detectives were carrying out their official duties (including their use of improper techniques to obtain search warrants and their failure to properly document cash payments to the undocumented sources) in department meetings, during which time Defendant Rouse was present.

On November 16, 2004, Vose informed Defendant Rouse that the major case unit detectives, about whom Vose had previously complained, were scheduled to testify at the Sangamon County courthouse in a trial involving Defendant Anthony Grimm. Vose further advised Defendant Rouse that their testimony may be problematic and that Rouse should attend the trial. Defendant Rouse directed Vose to attend the Grimm trial instead and instructed Vose to report back to him. In accordance with Defendant Rouse's instructions, Vose attended the trial. During the trial he learned that documents in the possession and control of the Springfield Police Department had not been turned over to the defense prior to trial, including documents in the files of one of the detectives.

During Vose's attendance at the trial, one of the detectives approached Vose and questioned whether Vose was working for the defense in the Grimm trial. Vose attended the trial for the sole purpose of reporting his observations of the trial proceeding to Defendant Rouse. Vose informed Defendant Rouse that one of the detectives had accused him of working for the defense in the Grimm case. Sometime later, Defendant Rouse informed Vose that the detectives present at the trial and their supervisor were in the process of initiating an internal affairs complaint against him based upon the events that transpired in the courtroom during the Grimm trial. On November 30, 2004, Vose was served with an internal affairs complaint concerning the incident at the courthouse.

Sometime after Vose had aired his concerns regarding the wrongdoing, Defendant Rouse began interfering in the operation of the narcotics unit by revising work schedules and assigning an additional Sergeant in the unit, who was to be responsible for "administrative matters." Complaint, ¶ 35. This Sergeant not only had limited narcotics experience, but he also had no experience as a narcotics supervisor. Vose believes that the aforementioned employment actions were undertaken with the knowledge and consent of Defendant Kliment.

In December 2004, Vose received a letter from Defendant Rouse instructing him to prepare a memorandum summarizing the alleged instances of wrongdoing by the major case unit detectives. Prior to this time, Defendant Rouse had not done anything to address the matters previously raised by Vose. At that time, Vose was planning to take an approved vacation leave from December 18, 2004, until January 3, 2005. Vose therefore notified Defendant Rouse through e-mail, which was carbon copied to Defendant Kliment, that he would prepare the requested memorandum upon his return. Vose was on vacation from December 18, 2004, until January 3, 2005. On December 20, 2004, while Vose was out on leave, Defendant Kliment issued a directive revising the work schedule of the narcotics unit effective January 1, 2005.

On February 14, 2005, Vose informed Defendant Rouse that he intended to deliver his memorandum to Defendant Kliment directly. Vose planned to indicate in his memorandum that Defendant Rouse had failed to address Vose's prior complaints concerning the major case unit detectives. On February 23, 2005, during an internal affairs investigation against Vose, Vose was questioned about his involvement in the Grimm case and his reporting of information to his superior officers about the detectives. "On February 24, 2005[,] a newspaper article was published regarding the allegations of misconduct and alleged perjury by the detectives." Complaint, ¶ 44.

On March 2, 2005, Vose advised Defendant Kliment through e-mail that his memorandum would be completed shortly. Vose subsequently hand-delivered his memorandum, detailing instances of wrongdoing by the major case unit detectives, and at that time he discussed with Defendant Kliment the substance of his memorandum. At one point in the discussion, Defendant Kliment assured Vose that he would not be transferred to another unit unless he made such a request. A newspaper article was again published, on March 3, 2005, implicating wrongdoing by one of the detectives about whom Vose had earlier complained.

Since January 1, 2005, Vose had been responsible for supervising all searches undertaken by the narcotics unit personnel. This, however, changed. Between the time of Defendant Rouse's appointment of the administrative Sergeant to the narcotics unit and Vose's submission of his memorandum, two questionable drug searches were conducted by the administrative Sergeant and the narcotics unit personnel without Vose's knowledge or consent. The first drug search, which was carried out by the administrative Sergeant and the narcotics unit personnel, resulted in an unlawful execution of an anticipatory search warrant. The second drug search, in which the ...


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