Ex-Casper Councilman Hedquist Appeals Lawsuit Against City, Former Police Chief
Former Casper City Council member Craig Hedquist has appealed the recent federal judge's dismissal of his lawsuit against former Police Chief Chris Walsh, now a council member himself, and the City of Casper over illegally searching his background as part of a political vendetta.
Hedquist, through his attorney Marci Crank Bramlet, filed the notice of appeal Tuesday with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
The notice did not spell out the grounds for the appeal.
It contained the docket sheet, the text of U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson's order granting the city's and Walsh's motion to dismiss the case on April 2, bills for costs, and the brief notice itself.
The appeal marks the next phase of the long-running legal battle between Hedquist and the city.
This case arose from another federal case filed by Hedquist against former City Manager John Patterson, in which he learned of the searches about him. That case filed in 2014 alleges Patterson tried to retaliate against him after criticisms over a land deal during the summer of 2012. Patterson then met with city council candidates to try to thwart Hedquist's election that fall.
That case is still before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In the newly appealed case, Hedquist asserted Patterson asked Walsh to research Hedquist's background using a national database. Walsh initially declined. The database requires law enforcement agencies to comply with laws, specifically the Driver Privacy Protection Act, that require subscribers use it for actions such as protecting against fraud; investigating matters related to public safety; or acting on behalf of federal, state or local courts.
But on July 29, 2013, Walsh asked a police department employee to conduct a search that resulted in a 124-page report with personal and business information, and information about relatives, associates and neighbors. A week later, Walsh and Patterson talked about the results of the search, according to the lawsuit.
Johnson, who in March 2017 ironically dismissed the city's and Walsh's motion to end Hedquist's case, wrote then that Hedquist provided enough evidence to show their concerted effort to obtain information. "Drawing on the Court's judicial experience and common sense, Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged Defendants obtained Plaintiff's personal information for an impermissible purpose," Johnson wrote.
In his April 2 ruling to dismiss Hedquist's lawsuit, Johnson did not disagree with evidence that Walsh used the database to obtain information.
But he agreed with Walsh and the city that Hedquist failed to satisfy a "'heavy two-part burden'" that the city had qualified immunity, which protects them from "'all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law."
Hedquist, who resigned from city council in July 2015, was not able to marshal case law that showed Walsh violated the DPPA, Johnson wrote.