Tonight there are new developments in Pittsburgh Police Lieutenant Catherine McNeilly's Whistleblower Law/First Amendment suit against the city and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. They come on the eve of a federal court hearing in the case.
First: this morning, U.S. District Chief Judge Donetta Ambrose had to preside by phone over a discovery dispute when lawyers for the city and McNeilly clashed over access to important evidence.
Court papers show the judge ordered that "the entire files should be produced immediately" in advance of Thursday morning's hearing. Here's a link to that court document.
I've confirmed that the disputed documents include what Mayor Ravenstahl had previously described as a "thirty page report" on former Director of Operations Dennis Regan and former Commander McNeilly. I've also confirmed that they include "everything in the investigative files relating to the Regan and McNeilly investigations".
Attorneys tell me they expect that all of these documents will be entered into evidence at the 10:00 a.m. hearing and will become public records.
Second: McNeilly's attorneys filed a new brief today citing additional legal precedents for their request that the judge reverse McNeilly's demotion.
It argues that:
–"a government employee's speech may be entitled to First Amendment protection even if the speech violates a facially valid workplace regulation".
–"a government employee's speech may be entitled to First Amendment protection even if found to be incorrect".
A city official told me before Christmas that he believed Pittsburgh's law department would soon be filing documents in this federal court case. So far that hasn't happened–but when it does I hope to post them to the Busman's Holiday blog.