Vogt v. City of Hays

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Rights § 1983
  • Date Filed: September 28, 2017
  • Case #: 16-1495
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court Below: 844 F.3d 1235 (10th Cir. 2017)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether a criminal defendant's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination is violated if the government uses compelled statements against the criminal defendant during a probable cause hearing.

Respondent, formerly a police officer for Petitioner, applied for employment with a police department in a different city while still employed by Petitioner. During the interview with the new department, Respondent disclosed that while working for Petitioner he kept a knife, which he received from Petitioner. As a condition of employment, Respondent disclosed his transgression to Petitioner. After an investigation, Petitioner used the disclosure in a probable cause hearing for felony charges against Respondent. The state district court subsequently dismissed the charges for lack of probable cause, and Respondent filed a § 1983 claim against Petitioner for violating his Fifth Amendment rights. The federal district court dismissed Respondent's case, because the statement was not introduced during trial. The Tenth Circuit reversed in part, finding that Respondent had a valid Fifth Amendment claim. On appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Petitioner notes that a circuit split exists as to whether the use of compelled pretrial statements constitutes a violation of a person's right against self-incrimination. Petitioner argues that Respondent's Fifth Amendment right was not violated because: (1) the right against self-incrimination is a trial right; and (2) the government must retain the right to control and management of its personnel. Petitioner further asserts that this case provides the court with a perfect opportunity to resolve this issue because there are no questions of material fact.

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