Tuesday, November 01, 2016

A public officer threatening to do something that he or she may lawfully due does not constitute coercion


Public officer threatening to do something that he or she may lawfully do does not constitute coercion
City of Dodge City v Webb, Kansas Supreme Court, #109634

The Kansas Supreme Court sustained the conviction of Orie J. Webb of driving under the influence of alcohol. Webb argued that that he had been unconstitutionally coerced into submitting to a breath test for alcohol because police officers threatened to obtain a warrant to have him submit to a "blood test."  The court said that as Kansas law permits law enforcement officers to to obtain a warrant for a blood draw after a breath test refusal, and therefore, the threat to do so was not coercive.

Sometimes an employee may be threatened with disciplinary action if he or she does not immediately resign from the position. Does such a demand constitute coercion?

In Rychlick v Coughlin, 63 NY2d 643, a case challenging an appointing authority's demand that an employee resign from the position or be served with  disciplinary charges, the Court of Appeals ruled that threatening to do what the appointing authority had a right to do -- file disciplinary charges against the employee -- did not constitute coercion so as to make the resignation involuntary.

New York’s Court of Appeals has also addressed the question of using an employee’s statement made under the threat of dismissal from his or her employment in a criminal action taken against the individual. 

In People v Corrigan, 80 NY2d 326, the court ruled that under both state and federal law any statement made under the threat of dismissal from one's position is protected by the privilege against self-incrimination and is “automatically immunized from use in criminal proceedings.”

Further, in Kastigar v United States, 406 U.S.441, the Supreme Court held that in the event an employee believes information obtained under threat of disciplinary action is going to be used against him or her in a pending criminal proceeding, he or she may request what is now referred to as a “Kastigar hearing” to determine whether the prosecution made any use of either a compelled, immunized statement or any evidence derived directly or indirectly from such a statement in the criminal action.

The decisions is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/opinions/ctapp/2014/20140613/109634.pdf


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