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Case Name Hudson v. Montgomery County FA-PA-0017
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-01487-JDW ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Attorney Organization Civil Rights Corps
Case Summary
This is a case about alleged wrongful retaliation and wrongful discharge of a public defender as a result of an amicus brief that was critical of Montgomery County’s money bail system. A former Montgomery County chief public defender filed this suit against Montgomery Country on March 17th, 2020 ... read more >
This is a case about alleged wrongful retaliation and wrongful discharge of a public defender as a result of an amicus brief that was critical of Montgomery County’s money bail system. A former Montgomery County chief public defender filed this suit against Montgomery Country on March 17th, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She sued the County for First Amendment retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and for wrongful discharge under the common law of Pennsylvania. Represented by the Civil Rights Corps and Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feinberg & Lin, she sought injunctive relief, reinstatement, and compensatory damages.

Before she was fired, the plaintiff became aware of a class-action mandamus petition filed by the ACLU of Pennsylvania in March 2019: Philadelphia Community Bail Fund v. Arraignment Court Magistrates. In the petition, the Bail Fund alleged that the bail system in Philadelphia County violated both the federal and state constitutions in three ways: 1) lack of consideration of the ability of defendants to pay, 2) purposeful imposition of higher monetary conditions to ensure pretrial incarceration, and 3) lack of due process in its preliminary arraignments. To highlight the existence of similar violations in Montgomery County and throughout Pennsylvania, the plaintiff “directed the filing of” an amicus brief in support of the Bail Fund in early February 2020. She was fired on February 26, 2020, she alleged, as a result.

On May 18th, 2020, Montgomery County moved to dismiss the case. Montgomery County asserted that the speech at issue was not in fact the plaintiff’s own speech because she did not draft, file, or sign the amicus brief in question, and therefore she lacked standing to seek protections under the First Amendment. Moreover, the County argued that the speech in question was not citizen speech since it was prepared as part of the professional duties and with the specialized knowledge of the Montgomery County Office of Public Defender. Finally, the County argued that the wrongful discharge claim should be dismissed because the County had immunity for a claim of wrongful discharge.

The plaintiff filed a response to the motion on June 8th, 2020, and on June 16th, 2020 the defendants filed their reply. Judge Joshua Wolson has not yet ruled on the motion to dismiss. The case is ongoing.

Madeline Buday - 09/24/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
General
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Montgomery County
Plaintiff Description A former Montgomery County chief public defender
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Civil Rights Corps
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 03/17/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
E.D. Pa.
09/09/2020
2:20-cv-01487
FA-PA-0017-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Pa.
03/17/2020
Complaint [ECF# 1]
FA-PA-0017-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Pa.
05/18/2020
Defendant's Memorandum of Law in Support of its Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint Pursuant to Rules 12(b)(6) and 12 (b)(1) [ECF# 10-1]
FA-PA-0017-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Wolson, Joshua David (E.D. Pa.) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0017-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Boykin, Olevia (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0017-0002 | FA-PA-0017-9000
Gerstein, Charles L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0017-0002 | FA-PA-0017-9000
Rudovsky, David (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0017-0002 | FA-PA-0017-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Brown, Mary Kay (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0017-0001 | FA-PA-0017-9000
McGarry, Raymond (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0017-0001 | FA-PA-0017-9000
Nimeroff, Jami B (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
FA-PA-0017-0001 | FA-PA-0017-9000

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