Legal Memorandum: Classification of a "Deputy" in LA

Issue: Whether a Deputy is classified as a city employee in Shreveport, Louisiana?

Area of Law: Municipal, County and Local Law
Keywords: Classified service; City employee; Deputy
Jurisdiction: Federal, Louisiana
Cited Cases: 331 So. 2d 506
Cited Statutes: City of Shreveport Charter § 14.07;
Date: 05/01/2010

The Shreveport City Charter unequivocally states that “all employees of the judges and marshal of the city court” are in the unclassified service.  City of Shreveport Charter § 14.07.  Under the same Charter provision, it is only members of the classified service who are entitled to notice and hearing prior to termination.  See also Bell v. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., 483 So. 2d 945, 949 (La. 2/24/86) (tenure or classified civil service status is a prerequisite for a due process challenge). 

A person may attempt to establish a right to due process with an assertion that pursuant to “custom” deputies are only fired for cause.  However, such a custom would be in direct conflict with the City Charter provision establishing that only classified employees are protected by a for-cause dismissal requirement, as well as the principle, discussed below, that deputy marshals are at-will employees who may be dismissed for any reason at all.  See Harrington v. Upchurch, 331 So. 2d 506, 511 (La. App. 3 Cir. 4/14/76) (holding that although a custom may acquire the force of law, a statutory rule of law cannot be changed, nor may its applicability be affected by a local custom).  Accord Cohen v. Frima Prods. Co., 181 F.2d 324, 325 (5th Cir. 1950) (stating rule that when there is conflicting evidence as to custom, that evidence cannot establish an implied warranty when no such warranty existed in law).

Furthermore, under Louisiana authorities, there is an argument that a marshal […]

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