Ex-Detroit Lawyer Loses Appeal Over ‘Ghetto’ Remark
DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A former top lawyer for the city of Detroit who lost her job for describing a local court as “ghetto” has lost an appeal over her dismissal.
A federal appeals court said Friday that Kathleen Leavey’s comments in 2009 were not protected under the First Amendment because they were made as part of her job.
Leavey, who is white, has said she used the word “ghetto” in a conversation with a court employee to describe Detroit’s 36th District Court as inefficient and poor in serving the public. The chief judge, who is black, heard about the comment and contacted city hall. The angry call to a deputy mayor led to Leavey’s departure.
Talking to the National Law Journal, Leavey said she’s “not racist” and that her comment was taken out of context.
According to Leavey, she told an administrator that “people regard this as a ghetto court because of the way they treat people.” She explained that she was referring to a poorly managed court. “Judges don’t get on the bench until 11 o’clock. People wait in long lines. Files get lost,” she said. “It’s just badly managed.”
The appeals court ruled that the Constitution does not shield certain expressions made during official duties.
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