The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled that a Paterson, N.J., police officer is foreclosed from claiming retaliation based on a wrongly-perceived exercise of free-speech rights.

In a precedential ruling, the appeals court affirmed the award of summary judgment by U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty of the District of New Jersey to the city of Paterson in a suit brought by Jeffrey Heffernan, a detective who was demoted after requesting a local mayoral candidate’s campaign lawn sign on behalf of his bedridden mother.

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