Codd v. Velger

429 U.S. 624, 97 S.Ct. 882, 51 L.Ed.2d 92 (1977)


Velger believed he had been wrongly dismissed from his police officer job without a hearing. He had a probationary position. He argued that material from another position had been put in his police file which was derogatory and defamatory. At trial the judge determined he hadn’t been stigmatized by the actions. The court said the information (which was a record of an instance where Velger was said to have put a gun to his head and contemplated suicide) was not made public. The appellate court found the information as stigmatizing and reversed because it clearly impacted his future career.


Whether “the report in question was of a stigmatizing nature, and whether the circumstances of its apparent dissemination were such as to fall within the language of Roth.”


No. For a hearing to be required there must be some factual dispute “which has some significant beaing on the employee’s reputation.” Velger says nowhere that the attempted suicide report is false. It’s simply not in the record and he’s not disputing the facts. If what is in the report is true, how can it be defamation?


Saying that a failure to allege falsity in the facts (as this court does) results in a dead claim, is the same as saying the guilty aren’t allowing to have a trial. We try guilty and innocent alike. The point of a hearing is to establish truth or falsity of claims. “Even when it is perfectly clear that the charge is true, the Constitution requires that procedural safeguards be observed.”

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