Judge to Bolton: Tell Your Story Walkin’

Just got this from Dallas spokesman Frank Librio: Disgraced former DPD Chief Terrell Bolton’s lawsuit against the city has been thrown out. Jump for the release.

Bolton v. City of Dallas

Civil Action No. 3:04-CV-501

Former City Manager Ted Benavides terminated former Chief of Police Terrell Bolton from his position with the City of Dallas on August 27, 2003. Bolton filed suit on March 11, 2004 against Ted Benavides in his official and individual capacities and the City. Bolton claimed the City and Benavides violated his rights to due process and equal protection under the law. He also alleged the City could not terminate him from his position as chief of police without cause and that Chapter XII, Section 5 of the Dallas City Charter (as it then existed) required the City to return him to his former civil service position of sergeant in the Dallas Police Department. (The voters repealed Chapter XII, Section 5 of the City Charter in November 2005.)

On September 20, 2005, U.S. District Judge Kinkeade granted the City’s and Benavides’ motion for summary judgment and dismissed Bolton’s lawsuit. Bolton appealed. On December 7, 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit concluded that Chapter XII, Section 5 of the City Charter created a property interest in employment at a former rank for executive-level officials in the police department who were not terminated for cause. But the court also held that reasonable public officials could have believed both that discharging Bolton would not violate his constitutional rights, and that Bolton was not entitled to be returned to his former civil service position of sergeant. Thus, the court found that Benavides did not violate clearly-established law when he terminated Bolton’s employment and therefore was entitled to qualified immunity. The court then affirmed the dismissal of Bolton’s claims against Benavides in his individual capacity.

However, the Fifth Circuit also reversed the district court’s decision in part, finding that Chapter XII, Section 5 of the Dallas City Charter, as it then existed, may have given Bolton a constitutionally protected property interest in continued city employment. The court of appeals remanded the case to Judge Kinkeade for further proceedings. Judge Kinkeade thereafter recused himself, and the case was then was assigned to Judge Fitzwater.

On remand, Judge Fitzwater ruled last Friday that Bolton cannot prove that his alleged injuries were caused by the execution of the City’s policy or custom such that the City is subject to liability under the law. Therefore, the court dismissed all claims against the City and all claims against Benavides in his official capacity, and dismissed the case with prejudice.

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