Former Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission investigator cannot move forward with suit, judge rules

By Jon Campisi | Jan 31, 2012

A former investigator for Philadelphia’s Police Advisory Commission cannot move forward with his claims that he was forced out of his job because he referred an individual to a member of the press, a federal judge in Philadelphia has ruled.

In a memorandum issued Jan. 27, U.S. District Judge Jan E. DuBois granted a motion by the City of Philadelphia and various municipal officials to dismiss a complaint that had been filed against them by former PAC chief investigator Wellington Stubbs.

Stubbs, who began his career with the PAC in 2002, filed a lawsuit in July 2010 against the city, Mayor Michael Nutter, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison and others, alleging he was forced to resign his position in November 2009 because he provided a police informant with the telephone number of a local newspaper reporter whom the plaintiff thought might be able to help the man.

The confidential informant told Stubbs that he was being targeted by a crooked cop.

In early December 2008, Stubbs interviewed the police informant, identified as Ventura Martinez, at the PAC office, after Martinez filed a complaint with the PAC stating that he “felt threatened by a police officer and a drug dealer with whom he had been working,” according to background information found in the judge’s memorandum.

During the interview, Stubbs gave Martinez the phone number for a reporter with the Philadelphia Daily News, because Stubbs believed the reporter might have contacts who would be able to help the man out.

The reporter, Wendy Ruderman, ended up using information provided to her by Martinez to pen an award-winning series for the newspaper.

Gillison, the deputy mayor for public safety, learned of the newspaper articles and subsequently ended up telling Stubbs he “exercised poor judgment” in referring Martinez to the Daily News reporter.

About eight months later, in late October 2009, the City Controller’s Office issued a special report concluding that Stubbs had violated city residency requirements, failed to pay city wage tax, failed to disclose outside income, and used excessive undocumented sick leave.

After the report’s release, Gillison met with Stubbs and informed the man he either had to resign or be terminated.

On Nov. 13, 2009, Stubbs informed Gillison he would be leaving his job with the PAC.

Stubbs filed his lawsuit the following summer.

The defendants followed up with a motion to dismiss, which was subsequently granted, and the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, asserting Section 1983 claims.

The defendants then filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing there is no genuine issue of material fact as to any of the plaintiff’s claims.

DuBois, in his ruling, wrote that despite Stubbs’ argument that city officials retaliated against him for referring Martinez to the press, what Stubbs contended was actions protected by the First Amendment, this activity was not protected by free speech because the plaintiff did not speak as a citizen, but rather in his professional capacity.

DuBois cited case law in ruling that Stubbs’ actions were not constitutionally protected.

“In this case, plaintiff did not speak as a citizen when he gave Ruderman’s contact information to Martinez,” the judge wrote. “The Court concludes that plaintiff’s contact with the press ‘concerned matters related to his professional duties.’”

DuBois ruled that because there is no genuine issue of material fact as to whether Stubb’s speech was protected, the court didn’t need to analyze other elements of his First Amendment retaliation claim, and therefore granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment in the case.

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