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Judge dismisses civil rights claim against sheriff

Judge drops suit

A federal judge has dismissed the civil rights case filed by a former deputy against Letcher County Sheriff Mickey Stines.

U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell signed the order dismissing the suit filed by Alisha Congleton last year. Congleton, who was a sergeant with the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department when Danny Webb was sheriff, claimed in the suit that Stines had failed to rehire her when he took office because she had openly campaigned against him. The suit claimed that Stines violated Congleton’s rights under the First Amendment and the 14th Amendment, but the judge said she did not find enough evidence to support the case.

Caldwell said in her ruling that while Congleton was engaged in protected political speech, she could not prove that was the reason she wasn’t rehired. Caldwell said she present affidavits from two other deputies, Eugene Slone and Barry Engle, both of whom ran for sheriff and lost, and there was nothing in the affidavits showing that Stines refused to rehire her because of her political activities.

“While the Engle and Slone affidavits are evidence that Stines was irritated and upset about Congleton’s speech against him, they are not evidence that her political activity was a ‘substantial or motivating factor’ in Stines’s failure to hire Congleton as a deputy,” Caldwell wrote. “Neither Engle nor Slone provide a ‘causal link’ between Stines’s irritation with Congleton’s speech and his failure to hire her.”

Stines had asked for a summary judgment in the case, and Caldwell agreed. The case was dismissed against Stines personally and in his official capacity as sheriff.

The order was signed on June 11, but Congleton had 30 days to appeal. No appeal was filed.

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