The opinion of the court was delivered by: VINCENT L. BRODERICK
VINCENT L. BRODERICK, U.S.D.J.
These cases present the question of the proper response of the federal courts when a police officer and a correction officer sue each other in separate lawsuits based on events involving the conduct of each while on duty.
Plaintiff Woodrow Brown ("Brown"), a Yonkers police officer, participated in an arrest of the defendant Harry Bannister ("Bannister") a Westchester County Correction Officer who was then off duty, in July of 1990. Bannister and another person, both of whom had been drinking, were stopped while driving and detained for approximately three hours before being released. All charges against Bannister were dropped. Bannister thereafter brought suit in this court (92 Civ 8367 [VLB]) under 42 USC 1983 against Brown and the City of Yonkers (a claim against the Westchester District Attorney's Office was subsequently dropped). In that case discovery is complete.
On February 24, 1993 Brown, in uniform and acting as a police officer, brought a prisoner to the Westchester County Correctional Facility at Valhalla, New York. According to the complaint in 93 Civ 2700 (VLB), Bannister and other correctional officers detained Brown for approximately two hours for unknown reasons. No personal injuries, arrest, search, handcuffing or other untoward events affecting Brown ensued. The correctional officer did use foul language.
Brown subsequently filed the complaint in 93 Civ 2700 against Bannister, the County of Westchester, another correction officer and an unknown correction officer based on 42 USC 1983 and various state statutory provisions, basing jurisdiction on 28 USC 1331 and the supplemental jurisdiction over related claims authorized by 28 USC 1367. The County of Westchester has moved to dismiss Brown's claims against it on the ground that nothing is alleged establishing its responsibility; Brown has cross-moved for production of defendants' personnel records.
The matters outlined below are to be considered before these motions are decided.
The judiciary at federal and state levels was characterized in The Federalist No 82 (Hamilton) as "ONE WHOLE" (capitalization in original). The same is true to a large extent with regard to municipal, county and federal law enforcement (including correctional) personnel, all of whom are sworn to seek to protect the public to the best of their ability. This objective is, indeed, suggested by the Preamble to the Constitution, which refers to "domestic Tranquillity" as one of its purposes.
In the military as in law enforcement, loss of duty time due to bad judgment, or to improperly motivated decisions by others including the use of insults and unfortunate language, are annoyances which must be accepted as part of the job. Although true professionalism disfavors unnecessary use of objectionable language or wasting the time of others, adherence to appropriate standards is ordinarily sought through internal disciplinary measures, not by resort to the courts. The adage that one who cannot stand the heat should get out of the kitchen may at times be apt.
In some circumstances, lawsuits between governmental agencies, even at the same level of government, are permitted, as when employment-related agencies litigate with operating agencies concerning employment matters. Personal lawsuits by employees of one state governmental agency against employees of another state or governmental agency involving matters within the scope of their duties runs counter, however, to ...