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Davis v. City of Chicago

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

May 8, 2018

Lorenzo Davis, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
City of Chicago, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued January 5, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 15 CV 7771 - Charles P. Kocoras, Judge.

          Before Kanne, Rovner, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.

          Kanne, Circuit Judge.

         Lorenzo Davis worked for Chicago's Independent Police Review Authority. He alleges that his supervisor fired him because he refused to change his findings in a number of investigations into police misconduct. Davis sued the City of Chicago, arguing that his firing violated his First Amendment rights. The district court dismissed Davis's claim. We affirm because Davis's refusal to change his reports is not protected speech.

         I. Background

         Chicago's Independent Police Review Authority ("IPRA") investigated[1] certain types of complaints against Chicago police, including domestic violence, excessive force, and death in police custody. Chi., Ill., Municipal Code §§ 2-57-020, -040(a)-(f). After investigating such allegations, I PRA made a disciplinary recommendation to the Chicago Police in the form of a report. The reports summarized the investigation and included findings on the alleged misconduct: namely, whether the allegations were "sustained, " "not sustained, " "exonerated, " or "unfounded."

         IPRA investigators played a key role in creating these reports. They interviewed police and civilian witnesses and procured and preserved other evidence. They also drafted the report. Nevertheless, IPRA's Chief Administrator retained final responsibility for making recommendations to the Chicago Police. Id. § 2-57-040(h). The Administrator could also create "rules, regulations and procedures for the conduct of [IPRA's] investigations." Id. § 2-57-040(m).

         Lorenzo Davis began working for IPRA in 2008 as an investigator. In 2010, he was promoted to supervisor. In both positions, Davis collected and reviewed evidence on complaints of police misconduct, then submitted draft reports. In 2014, Scott Ando became IPRA's Chief Administrator. Ando hired Steven Mitchell as his First Deputy Chief Administrator.

         Davis alleges that between 2014 and 2015, Ando and Mitchell ordered Davis to change "sustained" findings of police misconduct and to change his reports to reflect more favorably on the accused officers. Davis refused to change his findings. Ando allegedly threatened to fire Davis if he did not change his disciplinary recommendations, but Davis still refused. Davis also alleges that Ando and Mitchell requested Microsoft Word versions of Davis's reports to alter them in a way that would look like Davis had made the changes.

         In March 2015, Ando implemented a policy requiring his approval for all "sustained" findings. Under the new policy, if an investigator refused to make a change recommended by Ando, he would be disciplined for insubordination. After the policy was implemented, Davis again refused to change "sustained" findings. Ando fired him in July 2015.

         In the district court, Davis claimed that Ando fired him because he refused to change his "sustained" findings. He insisted that this violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He also alleged violations of the Illinois Whistleblower Act and common law retaliatory discharge.

         The district court dismissed his constitutional claims with prejudice and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his state law claims. Davis appeals only his First Amendment claim, which we review de novo. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).

         II. ...


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