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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas

An internal affairs investigative officer in the Dallas Police Department filed this 42 U.S.C. � 1983 suit for employment retaliation in violation of her First Amendment right to free speech. The officer was downgraded in performance rating, removed from investigative and supervisory duties, and effectively disqualified for promotions and overtime pay because of her alleged improper ex parte communication with a hearing officer, an assistant city manager, in a police disciplinary case in which she served as investigator. The internal affairs officer appealed from the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Chief of Police and the Police Department. We conclude that the statements made by the internal affairs officer addressed a matter of public concern; that the statements are entitled to First Amendment protection; and that the internal affairs officer’s right to speak was clearly established at the time the Chief acted. Whether the internal affairs officer was subjected to adverse employment action because of the exercise and content of her speech or because her speech was improperly made in the form of an ex parte communication is a genuinely disputed issue of material fact. We therefore reverse the summary judgment and remand the case for further proceedings.


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