The U.S. Supreme Court denied this week a request to hear the appeal of former Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub alleging due process violations in his ouster from the city.
The single-sentence decision from the nation’s highest court ends the legal action that began shortly after Straub’s announced departure in September 2015. The former chief alleged that the public release of a letter from police brass containing accusations of harassment damaged his reputation, and that he was not afforded the opportunity to defend against those claims before his dismissal from the city.
Straub denied the allegations in court filings.
A U.S. District Court judge in Spokane ruled against Straub in June 2016. Then, last summer, a panel of federal appellate court judges upheld the earlier ruling, with one calling the city’s handling of the ouster “a hot mess” but not agreeing with Straub that his due process rights had been violated in the dismissal.
Straub’s attorney, Mary Schultz, filed a request after the appellate decision for the case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. That request was denied Monday, according to federal court records.
In an email Friday, Schultz said she and her client found it “disappointing” that the Supreme Court would not hear the appeal.
“The 9th Circuit agreed this was an injustice,” she wrote. “It upheld the dismissal on a single thread where the law still has to catch up to the internet.”
The Spokane City Council is scheduled to consider legal contracts Monday that would bring to more than $180,000 the total paid to two firms out of the four that handled the federal case for the city. City Attorney Mike Ormsby said on Friday the other two firms won’t require additional funds approved by the council. Those other firms have signed contracts with the city worth up to $123,700, according to city records, bringing the potential legal bill for the city in the case to more than $300,000.
That total does not include payments to an independent investigator who probed the city’s handling of Straub’s dismissal or legal fees incurred in the handling of a legal claim coming from a former city parks spokeswoman, Nancy Goodspeed, who claimed discrimination as a result of personnel shuffling after Straub’s ouster.
The Supreme Court’s decision ends the federal litigation, Ormsby said, but there are some existing claims in state court that could still be filed.
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