Legal Memorandum: Denial of Procedural Due Process

Issue: Does a Shreveport, Louisiana deputy court marshal have a constitutionally protected property interest, in order to bring a claim for denial of due process due to his termination?

Area of Law: Constitutional Law, Employee Law
Keywords: Due process; Property or liberty interests
Jurisdiction: Federal, Louisiana
Cited Cases: 408 U.S. 564; 415 So. 2d 592
Cited Statutes: LSA CC Art. 2747; LSA-RS 13:1881(B)
Date: 08/01/2010

“In order to establish a claim of denial of procedural due process, a plaintiff must prove that he had a constitutionally protected property or liberty interest that has been infringed by the defendant.”*FN1  Givs v. City of Eunice, 512 F. Supp. 2d 522, 545 (W.D. La. 2007), aff’d, 268 Fed. Appx. 305 (5th Cir. 2008).  “To establish a due process violation in the public employment context, the plaintiff must first show that he had a legally cognizable property interest in his continued employment.”  Id.; see Moore v. Ware, 839 So. 2d 940, 948 (La. 2003).  In an opinion lauded by the Court of Appeals as “thorough” and correct, the court explained:

“Public employees must demonstrate a property right founded on a ‘legitimate claim of entitlement’ based on ‘mutually explicit understandings.'”  Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593, 601, 92 S. Ct. 2694, 33 L.Ed.2d 570 (1972).  A mere unilateral expectation of continued employment on the part of the employee is insufficient to confer a property interest.  Bd. of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 577, 92 S.Ct. 2701, 33 L.Ed.2d 548 (1972).  As the U.S. Supreme Court has explained, a public employee has a property interest in his job within the meaning of the due process clauses of both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments if he can be fired only for misconduct or “just cause.”  Cleveland Bd. of Educ. v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532, […]

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