Attorneys for the Loudoun Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Mike Chapman have filed motions asking a federal judge to dismiss former detective Mark McCaffrey’s lawsuit against them for wrongful termination and political retaliation.
McCaffrey alleges that in not re-swearing him because he supported a different candidate in the Republican primary, Chapman violated McCaffrey’s constitutionally-protected right to freedom of expression. He argues the county is also liable because of a cooperative agreement between the county and sheriff that extended the same protections and human resources policies that county employees enjoy to Sheriff’s Office employees.
The county has asked to be dismissed from the case, on the grounds that the sheriff is an independent constitutional officer not under under Board of Supervisors’ supervision. The agreement also states, in granting an exception to the county grievance procedure, “these exceptions are made so that this Agreement … does not abrogate the Sheriff’s full authority to direct and control his deputies and to remove them from appointment” as described in state law.
That agreement also expired at the end of the sheriff’s first term; Chapman did not reappoint McCaffrey in his second term.
The sheriff’s attorneys have asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing the sheriff is protected by an exception that allows elected leaders to dismiss employees from policymaking positions. A 1997 case found that deputies in North Carolina fall under that exemption because “deputies on patrol work autonomously exercising significant discretion in performing their jobs” and in the course of their work will “make some decisions that actually create policy.”
The sheriff has also asked the court to strike a large section of McCaffrey’s complaint detailing allegations of using the sheriff’s office to protect and reward political supporters, abusing deputies, and mismanaging the office and budget.