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Judge vacates jury verdict in DSP police firing range lawsuit

The Associated Press

DOVER, Del.- A federal judge in Wilmington on Monday threw out a jury verdict awarding almost $2 million to three state troopers who claimed they were retaliated against for speaking out about problems at the now-closed police firing range.

U.S. District Court judge Gregory Sleet says the jury's June verdict could not stand in light of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in late May. In that ruling, the high court said government employees do not have free-speech protections for what they say as part of their jobs.

The Supreme Court decision came down one day before a federal jury in Delaware began deliberating in a free speech lawsuit filed by corporals Kurt Price and Wayne Warren and Sgt. Christopher Foraker.

The jury found that former police superintendent Aaron Chaffinch and his successor, Col. Thomas MacLeish, retaliated against the troopers for exercising their free speech rights.

In Monday's ruling, Sleet said that pointing out problems at the firing range was part of the troopers' job duties, and thus not subject to free-speech protection.

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