Wednesday, January 3, 2007

McNeilly V. Ravenstahl: New Twists

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.


Anonymous said...

she violated the principles of her and her husband's tyranny...

Anonymous said...

Ms. McNeilly is probably correct in her actions. Having said that she should also not be on the job. Her medical condition would prevent her from doing the job of police officer. Also if it were not for her husband, the former chief, she would not have been promoted to Cmdr.

Bob Mayo said...

This 2003 Tribune-Review article shows that Catherine McNeilly became a police commander in 1992. That's four years before her husband became police chief in April, 2006.

The same article documents that after developing multiple sclerosis, she had to fight the city to get her job back. She did so by filing a federal complaint charging discrimination based on disability. Notice how the article describes her duties at the time her illness began. "Her role had included administrative oversight of the personnel department, reviewing reports and other managerial duties."
It appears that she established through her federal complaint that her medical condition would not prevent her from doing her job as a police officer.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous left a new comment on the post "McNeilly V. Ravenstahl: New Twists": January 7, 2007 10:39 AM

Most employers, as good employers, have policies in place to protect the work environment from becoming one that is hostile or harassing. These policies usually involve a mechanism of reporting that will at least insure an investigation. However, when the one doing the harassing and creating the hostile work environment is at the very top, the policy ceases to work and regular employees are at a loss as to how to stop such destructive behavior. Catherine McNeilly found a way to stop it. ...[edited]*... Thank you Catherine McNeilly."

* Click here for more information.