State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey, Inc. v. State of New Jersey, 091514 FED3, 13-4822

Docket Nº:13-4822
Opinion Judge:HARDIMAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Party Name:STATE TROOPERS FRATERNAL ASSOCIATION OF NEW JERSEY, INC., Appellant v. STATE OF NEW JERSEY; SUPERINTENDENT NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE
Judge Panel:Before: FISHER, JORDAN and HARDIMAN, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:September 15, 2014
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
 
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STATE TROOPERS FRATERNAL ASSOCIATION OF NEW JERSEY, INC., Appellant

v.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY; SUPERINTENDENT NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE

No. 13-4822

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

September 15, 2014

NOT PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted Under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) September 12, 2014

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (D.C. No. 3-13-cv-01065) District Judge: Honorable Peter G. Sheridan

Before: FISHER, JORDAN and HARDIMAN, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

HARDIMAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

The State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey (STFA) appeals the denial of its request to enjoin an internal investigation of its president, New Jersey State Trooper Christopher Burgos. Because the District Court correctly found that the union cannot succeed on the merits of its claim, we will affirm.

I

Christopher Burgos is a New Jersey state trooper and the elected president of the STFA, the union representing all New Jersey state troopers below the rank of sergeant. As president, Burgos represents the union during labor negotiations and supports union members facing internal discipline, regularly acting as a liaison between the State Police Office of Professional Standards (OPS) and union members and their counsel.

In January 2013, Burgos was notified that he was the target of an internal investigation involving an alleged leak of a confidential document. Specifically, OPS had (apparently accidentally) emailed attorney Katherine Hartman, who represented troopers in matters before OPS, a copy of a report containing the preliminary findings of an internal investigation involving a union member. Hartman, in turn, forwarded the document to Burgos to review in his role as union president—a task Burgos claims he routinely performed with similar files. Burgos then sent the document to the attorneys representing the two troopers discussed in the report.

OPS ordered Burgos to submit to an interview as part of the investigation or face possible dismissal or suspension. In response, the STFA filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey seeking to enjoin the State from investigating Burgos in either an administrative or criminal capacity. Following a hearing on February 22, 2013, the District Court denied the STFA's request for an injunction, but told the union it could return for further review if the interview gave rise to First Amendment concerns.

At the interview, Burgos was told he was being investigated for violating two State Police rules and regulations, including one prohibiting "unauthorized release of information." He was questioned about conversations he had with union attorneys and other union executives and asked to turn over email conversations between himself and his attorneys. He also learned in the interview that OPS was investigating him for...

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