Baron v. Meloni, No. CIV-82-816T.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
Citation556 F. Supp. 796
Decision Date18 February 1983
PartiesRobert G. BARON, Plaintiff, v. Andrew P. MELONI, Individually and as Sheriff of the County of Monroe, and The County of Monroe, Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. CIV-82-816T.

556 F. Supp. 796

Robert G. BARON, Plaintiff,
v.
Andrew P. MELONI, Individually and as Sheriff of the County of Monroe, and The County of Monroe, Defendants.

No. CIV-82-816T.

United States District Court, W.D. New York.

February 18, 1983.


556 F. Supp. 797

Donald A. Forsyth & Sons, Rochester, N.Y. (Scott A. Forsyth, Rochester, N.Y., of counsel), for plaintiff.

John D. Doyle, County Atty., County of Monroe, Rochester, N.Y. (Nira T. Kermisch, Rochester, N.Y., of counsel), for defendants.

MEMORANDUM DECISION and ORDER

TELESCA, District Judge.

The plaintiff, Robert G. Baron (Baron), was a deputy sheriff with the Monroe County Sheriff's Department until he was terminated on May 7, 1980 for insubordination by disobeying orders of his superiors. He then commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 claiming violation of constitutional rights guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Both parties move for summary judgment and essentially concede there are no serious differences with the factual background. Fed.Rule Civ.P. 56(c).

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The plaintiff was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff in the Monroe County Sheriff's Department on February 22, 1971, and was for the most part assigned to the road patrol. On April 20, 1978 the plaintiff's patrol vehicle was observed in the driveway of Angelo Vaccaro's home, then under surveillance by the Organized Crime Task Force as the residence of a reputed mobster. The vehicle, a marked Sheriff's car, was observed at the house from 1:00 A.M. until 5:00 A.M. when plaintiff was on duty, and the Task Force notified the Sheriff's Office of these observations. Plaintiff in his affidavit to this Court admits having been in the Vaccaro home in March, 1978 to return a watch to "... Linda's Vaccaro home ... and had coffee and left one-half hour later."

On April 24, 1978, Baron was confronted with this information by the Chief of Detectives

556 F. Supp. 798
who ordered him not to associate with Linda Vaccaro, thereby disregarding Baron's disclaimer of any personal acquaintanceship with Linda Vaccaro. Plaintiff was subsequently observed in Linda Vaccaro's company on three separate occasions during June and July of 1978. On July 7, 1978, Baron was again ordered by Chief Deputy Thomas Cellura to refrain from associating with Linda Vaccaro; and on July 17, 1978, the Sheriff, (then William Lombard) filed disciplinary charges against plaintiff charging him with insubordination. Plaintiff was unsuccessful in State court in having the charges dismissed prior to an administrative hearing, and a hearing on these charges never materialized. See Baron v. Lombard, 50 N.Y.2d 896, 430 N.Y.S.2d 591, 408 N.E.2d 920 (1981)

New charges were filed against the plaintiff on April 13, 1979, arising from plaintiff's continued association with Linda Vaccaro in violation of the Sheriff's order. Plaintiff again sought (in State court) to prevent the Sheriff from administratively proceeding on these charges, but his action was dismissed, no appeal was taken, and no hearing was held.

On March 22, 1980, Linda Vaccaro was involved in an automobile accident while driving Baron's privately-owned automobile and on the same date, a third set of charges were filed against Baron alleging (1) insubordination for failing to follow the June, 1978 order to stay away from Linda Vaccaro, (2) conduct discrediting the Department, and (3) "consorting with persons of ill-repute". An administrative hearing was held on April 21 and 22, 1980; and on May 6, 1980, the hearing officer ruled that the defendant had violated the Sheriff's Department regulations proscribing insubordination and found that:

There were two orders given to Deputy Baron by superior officers having appropriate authority in the departmental chain of command to render such orders. The orders were specific and capable of understanding. There is no dispute that they were violated. (Emphasis supplied)1

The hearing officer also determined that the orders given to Baron had a rational basis at the time they were given, and since they had never been rescinded or terminated, Baron had violated the orders by his "continual association with Linda Vaccaro". However, the hearing officer concluded in dictum that the original order no longer had any reasonable basis because "Mrs. Vaccaro does not appear to be the focus of any surveillance, investigation or prosecution", making it difficult "to envision any interest that the department can continue to have in restraining Deputy Baron's right to associate with her". The hearing officer was referring to the fact that Angelo Vaccaro was found guilty of felony charges in Federal Court in 1979 and is presently incarcerated as a result of that conviction, which has been affirmed.2 Vaccaro obtained a decree of divorce on June 16, 1980, and plaintiff and Linda Vaccaro were married on July 13, 1980.

THE ISSUE

The question presented on this motion for summary judgment is whether Baron's failure to obey orders prohibiting his association with Linda Vaccaro which resulted in his dismissal for insubordination, presents a cognizable claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983 in view of the facts as presented by the parties.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff's first argument claiming that his discharge constitutes an unconstitutional infringement of his right of free association

556 F. Supp. 799
lacks merit. Although it is clear that freedom of association for certain purposes is encompassed within the protection of the First Amendment, NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449, 78 S.Ct. 1163, 2 L.Ed.2d 1488 (1958); Angola v. Civiletti, 666 F.2d 1 (2nd Cir.1981), and "policemen, like teachers and lawyers, are not relegated to a watered-down version of constitutional rights", Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493, 500, 87 S.Ct. 616, 620, 17 L.Ed.2d 562 (1967); a State has a permissible interest in regulating certain First Amendment rights of police officers. Gasparinetti v. Kerr, 568 F.2d 311, 315 (3rd Cir.1977), cert. denied 436 U.S. 903, 98 S.Ct. 2232, 56 L.Ed.2d 401. Furthermore, a State has an even greater interest in regulating the conduct of police officers who are of necessity distinguished from ordinary citizens. (Kelley v. Johnson, 425 U.S. 238, 96 S.Ct. 1440, 47...

To continue reading

Request your trial
13 practice notes
  • Whisenhunt v. Spradlin, No. 82-2148
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • November 7, 1983
    ...F.Supp. 974 (MD Ala.1974) (three-judge court); Briggs v. North Muskegon Police Dept., 563 F.Supp. 585 (WD Mich.1983); Baron v. Meloni, 556 F.Supp. 796 (WDNY 1983); Swope v. Bratton, 541 F.Supp. 99 (WD Ark.1982); Suddarth v. Slane, 539 F.Supp. 612 (WD Va.1982); Shuman v. City of Philadelphia......
  • Cronin v. Town of Amesbury, Civ. A. No. 93-11890-PBS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • July 25, 1995
    ...very well have an interest in investigating such activities and possibly terminating an employee") (citing cases); Baron v. Meloni, 556 F.Supp. 796, 800 (W.D.N.Y.1983) (police officer could be disciplined for publicly consorting with known mobster's This court concludes that plaintiff has a......
  • IDK, Inc. v. Clark County, No. CV-LV-84-574 RDF.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Nevada
    • December 24, 1984
    ...5 Two United States District Courts, outside the Eleventh Circuit, have treated almost identical fact situations. Baron v. Meloni, 556 F.Supp. 796 (W.D.N.Y.1983); Jackson v. Howell, 577 F.Supp. 47 (W.D.Mich.1983). In both cases, like Wilson v. Taylor, supra, a policeman was fired for dating......
  • Briggs v. North Muskegon Police Dept., No. G80-96 CA6.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • May 5, 1983
    ...several courts have held that sexual conduct outside marriage is not protected by the First or Fourteenth Amendments. Baron v. Meloni, 556 F.Supp. 796 (W.D.N.Y. 1983); Suddarth v. Slane, 539 F.Supp. 612 (W.D.Va.1982); Johnson v. San Jacinto Jr. College, 498 F.Supp. 555 (S.D.Tex.1980); Wilso......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • Whisenhunt v. Spradlin, No. 82-2148
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • November 7, 1983
    ...F.Supp. 974 (MD Ala.1974) (three-judge court); Briggs v. North Muskegon Police Dept., 563 F.Supp. 585 (WD Mich.1983); Baron v. Meloni, 556 F.Supp. 796 (WDNY 1983); Swope v. Bratton, 541 F.Supp. 99 (WD Ark.1982); Suddarth v. Slane, 539 F.Supp. 612 (WD Va.1982); Shuman v. City of Philadelphia......
  • Cronin v. Town of Amesbury, Civ. A. No. 93-11890-PBS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • July 25, 1995
    ...very well have an interest in investigating such activities and possibly terminating an employee") (citing cases); Baron v. Meloni, 556 F.Supp. 796, 800 (W.D.N.Y.1983) (police officer could be disciplined for publicly consorting with known mobster's This court concludes that plaintiff has a......
  • IDK, Inc. v. Clark County, No. CV-LV-84-574 RDF.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Nevada
    • December 24, 1984
    ...5 Two United States District Courts, outside the Eleventh Circuit, have treated almost identical fact situations. Baron v. Meloni, 556 F.Supp. 796 (W.D.N.Y.1983); Jackson v. Howell, 577 F.Supp. 47 (W.D.Mich.1983). In both cases, like Wilson v. Taylor, supra, a policeman was fired for dating......
  • Briggs v. North Muskegon Police Dept., No. G80-96 CA6.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • May 5, 1983
    ...several courts have held that sexual conduct outside marriage is not protected by the First or Fourteenth Amendments. Baron v. Meloni, 556 F.Supp. 796 (W.D.N.Y. 1983); Suddarth v. Slane, 539 F.Supp. 612 (W.D.Va.1982); Johnson v. San Jacinto Jr. College, 498 F.Supp. 555 (S.D.Tex.1980); Wilso......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT