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12:26 AM Mon, Jan. 21st

Ex-county employee files suit for civil liberties violations

KINGMAN - Another former county employee is suing the county. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona released a statement Nov. 17 saying it was representing former County Probation officer Joe Miller who was allegedly fired for signing a letter in support of a California ballot measure to decriminalize marijuana.

In June 2010, Miller was one of 32 current and retired law enforcement officers who signed their names to a letter from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition endorsing Proposition 19, an initiative that would have allowed adults over the age of 21 to legally possess and grow small amounts of marijuana for personal use. The letter was released to the press on Sept. 13, 2010.

According to the ACLU, the letter also identified which departments the officers worked at and included a disclaimer saying the department listings were for identification purposes only.

Miller was notified by then Chief Probation Officer Friend Walker that he had failed to comply with the department's code of ethics by signing the letter and not clearly stating that those were his personal views and not an endorsement by the department. Miller was fired a month later.

"I was terminated not because my service was inadequate, but because my views on drug policy didn't align with those of Mohave County or my superiors in the Probation Department," Miller said.

"There's no question Mohave County officials targeted Miller based on his political views," said ACLU of Arizona attorney Daniel Bonnett. "Government employees have a First Amendment right to speak out on matters of public concern and retaliating against them for exercising their free speech rights is simply un-American."

The lawsuit also lists Walker, Assistant Chief Probation officer Elaine Grissom and the state of Arizona as defendants.