Cook County Record

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Cook Co. Sheriff didn't violate officer's rights amid years-long, contested termination proceedings: Appeals panel


By Karen Kidd | Aug 22, 2019


CHICAGO — A federal appeals panel has rejected a claim from a Cook County Sheriff's Officer correctional officer that a drawn-out termination process that has followed his suspension almost eight years ago following a DUI arrest did not violate his constitutional rights.

The appeals court's decision was a setback in the claim brought by Michael Campos against the sheriff's office over the way the office handled his suspension and termination proceedings.

"Because Campos has not met the high standard for stating a substantive due process claim, we affirm the district court’s dismissal of his claims," a U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel said in a recent decision.

Seventh Circuit Judge Michael S. Kanne wrote the decision. Judges Diane S. Sykes and Michael B. Brennan concurred.

Termination proceedings against Campos began before the Cook County Sheriff's Merit Board shortly after his August 2011 arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence, striking a vehicle and leaving the scene of an accident.

After his arrest, Campos was suspended without pay as part of termination proceedings against him that still are not resolved.

"The Merit Board has voted to terminate Campos’ employment on two occasions," the 11-page decision issued Aug. 5 said. "But both times the Cook County Circuit Court vacated the decision. And, to this day, the termination proceedings are ongoing."

Campos didn't wait for the proceedings to run their course, the decision said.

"Instead of waiting for their completion, Campos filed this federal law suit alleging, among other things, that the protracted proceedings have violated his substantive due process rights," the decision said.

The lengthy proceedings are due in part to Campos' own success in fighting his firing, the judges said.

"The lengthy review process demonstrates Campos’ success in attacking the Merit Board’s decisions, not the inadequacy of the state remedies," the judges said. "The doctrine of substantive due process does not guarantee expeditious review; it merely protects fundamental rights from government deprivation by arbitrary and outrageous conduct. He [Campos] doesn’t allege any such conduct here."

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