Submitted: January 11, 2017
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Missouri - Hannibal
WOLLMAN, MURPHY, and COLLOTON, Circuit Judges.
MURPHY, Circuit Judge.
Jenkins was reduced to part time employment as the bailiff in
a county courthouse shortly after the election of Frederick
Tucker as presiding circuit judge. Jenkins sued Tucker and
the county sheriff, alleging that she had been unlawfully
retaliated against for supporting the losing candidate for
presiding judge. The district court granted summary judgment to
the sheriff but denied it to Tucker, who filed this
interlocutory appeal. We affirm.
Jenkins began working as a deputy sheriff in Macon County,
Missouri in 1998. Within a year she was working two part time
positions: both as a road deputy patrolling the county and as
a bailiff providing security in the Macon County courthouse
located in Missouri's 41st judicial district. Jenkins
began working full time as a bailiff in 2003, while remaining
a commissioned deputy sheriff. The presiding circuit judge
arranged for her salary to move from the sheriff's budget
to the court budget "to ensure that she would be
available for courtroom security at all times as the Courts .
. . were in session."
presiding circuit judge retired in early 2011, and the
governor appointed Frederick Tucker to fill the vacancy.
Tucker ran for reelection in 2012 against associate circuit
judge Philip Prewitt. Jenkins supported Prewitt in the
election and had his campaign sign placed on her property.
Tucker won the November 2012 election, however, and
reportedly told Jenkins, who was still working full time as
the court's bailiff, that he "want[ed] somebody that
supports [him]" working for him.
presiding circuit judge, Tucker was responsible for approving
the budgets for the court and the sheriff. When he
transmitted the budgets to the county commissioners for
approval shortly after the election, he moved Jenkins'
salary from the court budget and placed it back into the
sheriff's budget without notifying Jenkins. The county
commissioners then decreased the sheriff's personnel
budget by $18, 869.59, an amount slightly less than
Jenkins' annual salary.
minutes from the county commissioner meeting indicated any
discussion of the bailiff position or its potential impact on
the requested budgets. The newly elected sheriff, Kevin
Shoemaker, said that the commissioners had explained to him
that Jenkins should be included in his budget and could work
as either a part time bailiff or a full time road deputy.
Sheriff Shoemaker then gave Jenkins the option of taking one
of those two positions or retiring, and Jenkins chose to work
as a bailiff part time. This change in her employment status
resulted in Jenkins losing her health insurance coverage as
well as her social security and retirement benefits.
brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Tucker and Shoemaker in their individual and official
capacities for retaliating against her for having supported
associate judge Prewitt in the election. The defendants moved
for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity. The
district court granted Shoemaker summary judgment after
concluding that Jenkins had failed to present evidence that
Shoemaker knew she had supported Prewitt or taken any
retaliatory action against her. The district court denied
Tucker summary judgment after concluding that Tucker's
statement that he "wants somebody who supports
[him]" provided direct evidence of retaliatory motive.
The court also concluded that whether the budget transfer
caused an adverse employment action presented a material
issue of fact. Tucker appeals the denial of qualified
review "the denial of summary judgment based on
qualified immunity de novo, viewing all evidence in a light
favorable to the non moving parties." Shockency v.
Ramsey Cty., 493 F.3d 941, 948 (8th Cir. 2007). A state
official is entitled to summary judgment on the basis of
qualified immunity unless (1) the "facts taken in the
light favoring the nonmoving party show that the
official's action violated a constitutional right"
and (2) that right "was clearly established" at the
time of the violation. Id. at 947. On such an
interlocutory appeal, our review is limited to determining
purely legal issues such as "whether a reasonable
fact-finder could find a violation of plaintiff['s]
rights" and "whether the law establishing the
violation was clearly established at the time in
question." S.M. v. Krigbaum, 808 F.3d 335, 340
(8th Cir. 2015). We ...