Judge Weighs Alabama City’s Case Over Police Officer’s Facebook Posts

October 31, 2013

A Dothan, Alabama judge is considering whether city officials acted appropriately in upholding disciplinary action against a police officer for Facebook posts she made.

Circuit Judge Butch Binford heard arguments in the case of Dothan Police Cpl. Raemonica Carney.

Police Chief Greg Benton disciplined her earlier this year, after he was made aware of posts on her personal Facebook page about Christopher Dorner, the former Los Angeles police officer who was the subject of a massive manhunt that made national news earlier this year.

Carney directed readers of her Facebook page to a portion of Dorner’s manifesto to make a point about the case, The Dothan Eagle reported. She made other comments as well, and compared the hunt for Dorner to historical events.

Assistant City Attorney Kevan Kelly said 13 police officers filed official complaints about the posts.

Carney said during the personnel board hearing that her comments should not have been interpreted as support for Dorner’s actions.

The police chief had suspended Carney for 10 days without pay and put her on probation for two years for violation of the department’s social media policy. The Dothan Personnel Board upheld the discipline during a June hearing. Carney appealed the decision to Houston County Circuit Court.

At this week’s hearing, Carney attorney Sonya Edwards said the officer’s speech, even if it was considered offensive, was protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Kelly argued that the First Amendment doesn’t protect an employee who violates an employer’s rules.

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