The Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment

First Amendment

What happened in Garcetti v. Ceballos?

In this 2006 case, an assistant district attorney in Los Angeles, Richard Ceballos, learned from a defense attorney about possible perjured statements from a law enforcement officer in a search warrant affidavit. Ceballos conducted an independent investigation and agreed with the defense attorney that the officer’s testimony was troubling. Ceballos, as calendar deputy which gave him some supervisory authority, wrote a memorandum to his superiors, recommending that the criminal charges in the case be dismissed. His superiors did not agree with Ceballos, who later testified at a suppression hearing in the criminal case. Ceballos was demoted and transferred to a less desirable office after this controversy. Ceballos sued Gil Garcetti, the district attorney, and others, contending that they retaliated against him for his protected speech.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 (see LegalSpeak, p. 54) against Ceballos, finding that his speech in his memorandum was part of his official job duties and not protected citizen speech.


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