Drug War

Government Worker Fired for Signing Pro-Pot Legalization Petition


….and the ACLU of Arizona is helping him sue over it. 

Joe Miller, a former Marine and police officer, was working for Mohave County, Arizona's, probation department. He signed on to a letter from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), in September 2010 calling for California's voters to vote for the pot-legalizing Proposition 19.

Technically, which was an issue in him being fired, his wife via an email they shared agreed on his behalf to put his name on the letter. While Miller did approve of this, once he found out, when he was upbraided by his boss for signing on with his former and current affiliations listed without a disclaimer that it was his personal opinion, not that of the institution he worked for, he at first said that he didn't recall signing it since he had not yet been told by his wife that it happened. This lead the boss to also decide Miller was being dishonest on the matter. (The bottom of the letter did say, for everyone listed, "All agency affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.")

Quoted from the legal complaint over his firing:

The Notice of Dismissal states, among other things, that Mr. Miller "fail[ed] to maintain neutrality in action and appearance when [he] gave permission to the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) organization to include [his] job title and department 'Deputy Probation Officer, Mohave County Probation Department' with [his] endorsement of a California ballot proposition posted on-line [sic] on September 13, 2010

Miller was initially denied unemployment benefits after being fired. He appealed this denial, and:

On February 7, 2011, a DES [Arizona's Department of Economic Security] administrative law judge found that Mr. Miller had not engaged in any misconduct and found him eligible for unemployment benefits. The ALJ noted that Mr. Miller "was not dishonest when asked about the letter during the department's investigation" and,furthermore, that "a reasonable reader . . . would interpret the letter's disclaimer as making it clear that the [agency] affiliations listed were for the sole purpose of identifying the signatories, and not to suggest that it represented the views of the agencies or departments identified." The DES Appeals Board affirmed the ALJ's decision on April 12, 2011.

He with the Arizona ACLU's help is suing both the county and two superiors involved in his firing, claiming Mohave County violated his First Amendment rights and wrongfully terminated him by firing him merely over his public declaration of support for pot legalization.

The legal complaint.

The offending petition.

My Reason February 2011 feature on the rise and fall of California's Prop. 19.

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  1. Finally, a case the ACLU should

      1. Chief Inspector John Clouseau |11.21.11 @ 1:59PM|#
        My instinct is this, whenever there is a white indian post there is always a rather post to go with it. One does not come without the other. That means either an evil group of trolls is stalking you for no apparent reason or you are connected to the trolls. My instinct says the latter.

        Another case solved 🙂

          1. The fact that i can’t identify who is spoofing who only makes me hate you both all the more.

            Rather and Epi you are both now on on my shit list.

            1. Why do you blame the victim?

            2. There’s no spoofing, just a mongoloid and a kid dangling an Oreo just out of the mongoloid’s reach. It’s OK to laugh.

              1. Chief Inspector John Clouseau |11.21.11 @ 1:59PM|#
                My instinct is this, whenever there is a white indian post there is always a rather post to go with it. One does not come without the other. That means either an evil group of trolls is stalking you for no apparent reason or you are connected to the trolls. My instinct says the latter.

                Another case solved 🙂

                  1. Is this Peter Sellers Clouseau, or that horrible remake with once-great actor Steve Martin?

            3. Rather and Epi you are both now on on my shit list

              Mine too. Who else wants to join our club? Shunning them is the only answer. Banning them would be better. How about it, Powers That Be?

              1. Or, H&R could use their nuts and publish the IP of anyone who complains about spoofing.

                BTW, it is just epi.

  2. Can we find an excuse to fire the rest of them now?

  3. “Technically, which was an issue in him being fired, his wife via an email they shared agreed on his behalf to put his name on the letter. While Miller did approve of this, once he found out, when he was upbraided by his boss for signing on with his former and current affiliations listed without a disclaimer that it was his personal opinion, not that of the institution he worked for, he at first said that he didn’t recall signing it since he had not yet been told by his wife that it happened. This lead the boss to also decide Miller was being dishonest on the matter. (The bottom of the letter did say, for everyone listed, “All agency affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.”)”

    1. I thought I was taking crazy pills for a minute there.

    2. yea, that entire 2d para needs a rewrite. the subordinate clauses need minimalized.

  4. 1) Why would you share an email address with your wife? Don’t they pay cops enough to afford two Gmail accounts?

    2) Is the Mojave County probation dept aware that their reactions have generated more publicity for LEAP’s cause than the original petition ever would have?

    1. Couples who share email addresses are a bit creepy. I make an exception for extremely elderly couples, especially if only 1 is computer-literate, but otherwise get your own damn email address.

      1. I agree. Sharing an email address reeks of boundary issues and all of the problems that go along with that.

        1. You’re assuming that they don’t have their own e-mail addresses separate from a joint e-mail address. Nothing wrong with having a shared one if you have separate ones.

        2. If I were to put on my judging pants (and I believe I shall; they’re quite fetching), I would assume a pretty big lack of trust, and that one half of the relationship is the jealous, snooping type. And someone who just wants to evite you to their holiday potluck doesn’t need to contemplate your weird relationship issues, Creepy Email Sharing Couple.

          1. If I were to put on my judging pants

            Do those fit like your vast collection of mom jeans?

            1. Only with MOAR cameltoe. How aroused are you right now?

              1. Break out the parachute pants, Dagny!

          2. I agree. Plus the whole sharing thing for evites or w/e is a crock too. I mean they can’t trust their spouse to mention they were invited to a party? No, they must have access to the email to make sure. Creepy.

            1. Perhaps, just maybe, y’all are reading a little bit too much into the situation?

        3. I think it’s sweet. And nothing stops either of them from getting an independent email address.

    2. The Mohave County Probation Department is full of rejects from the rest of the country.

  5. He with the Arizona ACLU’s help is suing both the county and two superiors involved in his firing

    Ahhh one of the few times you can actually sue a bureaucrat.

  6. You would think that Reason would get it correct.

    The U.S. Constitution does not prohibit the use of marijuana.

    The U.S. Federal Government came along and “criminalized” the cultivation, possession and use of marijuana.

    So any actions to overturn the government’s current position and law on this would be to “Decriminalize” the cultivation, possession and use of marijuana.


    If you support the U.S. Constitution than Legalization implies making something legal that is illegal according the U.S. Constitution.

    Reason and other Libertarian organizations need to start using the correct term here so that people understand that the cultivation, possession and use of marijuana is not prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

    Is it splitting hairs? I think not.

    1. I have literally never interacted with somebody who thinks the Constitution prohibits marijuana.

  7. Once in a while, the ACLU does something to justify their existence.

    Liberal response in 3…2…

    1. For all the criticism they get (granted, far more from the right than from libertarians) I usually find myself agreeing with their positions. Despite their typically far-left orientation, they tend to be pretty principled and non-partisan in the stands they take–they filed a brief for the plaintiff in Citizens United, FFS.

      1. Oh, they do good work… some of it seems kinda off, somehow, but it was kinda surprising they stood up for CU’s plaintiffs.

      2. That’s what I can respect about the ACLU.

        They represent the civil liberties of ALL citizens… not just the citizens they agree with.

        1. fwiw, they’ve been piss poor at representing the civil liberties of gun owners, but nobody’s perfect

          1. That’s my main hangup with them.

          2. Their explanation for that is that there are so many other organizations that defend gun rights, but none to defend other rights, so they defend all the other rights and leave the gun rights to the gun groups.

  8. i agree too. i may not agree with the ACLU on everything, but they are an invaluable source in seeking justice in an adversarial system

    a lawyer explained to me very pragmatically that many times the ACLU lawyer and.or the ACLU bigwigs themselves may NOT agree even with the cause they are advocating for, but they feel a need to be the ones taking the position contrary to govt… because somebody has to … granted, they suck on the 2nd amendment

    remember also, they pissed off libs something fierce by coming down pro free speech in citizens united

  9. fwiw, the agency affiliations this is a very big issue.

    i’ve written editorials. our policy (and common sense) say that IF one is to identify themself as a member of my PD, one must first get permission from the dept.

    iow, i can sign “NAME, a Law Enforcement Officer in the State of WA” without needing to get permission

    but i cannot say my specific agency, unless i do

    and i guess IF i did, i would have to be very clear to say “my views are not representative of my agency, i am solely speaking for myself, bla bla” but our policy just says – don’t even identify your agency…

    the case will probably hinge on the whole identifying himself (or not) issue/disclaimer etc.

  10. because it’s SO a propos…


    When thinking about threats on the street and the assortment of weapons they might face in the field, most officers think first of a gun, or a knife, and then of one of the other instruments, such as rocks, bottles, lead pipes and other items. Occasionally, during your crisis rehearsal exercises, a mental picture of those items or other improvised weapons might enter your mind. If you’re like most street-wise officers, I’m sure you’ve probably planned your responses accordingly. But have you thought about being attacked by a dog?

    Just the idea of “dogs as threats” is likely to raise the ire of numerous doggy groups. During my Street Survival Seminar days, we presented a block of instruction on how to survive canine threats. While the content focused on all breeds, the pit bull got the most screen time simply because there was so much film of that specific breed available. And every month or two, depending on where the seminar was held, one or two letters would come into the offices from the local Pit Bull Lover’s Club chastising the presenters for even suggesting deadly force as an appropriate defense against an attacking dog.

    So, at the risk of offending a few pit bull or Rottweiler owners out there who just happen to be readers of Law Officer, here I go again. Please keep in mind: I’m not advocating shooting every four-legged Tom (Fido), Dick (Rover) or Harry (Hairy) you might encounter during your day-to-day street duties. However, this article will focus on two very important aspects of canine threats. And my intent is that this material will also serve as the genesis for some possible roll-call or range training in this area.

    Issue 1: Are you as a police officer legally covered if you have to use deadly force to protect yourself or your partner against an attacking dog? And Issue 2: How do you do the dirty deed quickly and efficiently if that does become your decision?

    Let’s address Issue 1 first. Is deadly force an appropriate defense against Murray the Malinois if one day he decides that you, Officer Usually Friendly, aren’t coming onto his property today to serve that nasty old search warrant on his dope dealing owner? Yes, it can be. Who says? Well, besides your humble author, the courts.

    Legal Basis
    Case law dating back almost two decades authorizes the use of deadly force by an officer against an attacking dog. One of the earliest cases is from Kansas (and it doesn’t involve Dorothy and her dog Toto). In State v. Bowers 721 P.2d 268 (1989), a local court held that a dog used to attack a police officer does, in fact, constitute deadly force.

    There are a lot of other cases out there, too, and you should check with your legal beagles (pardon the pun) county DA or state prosecutor for applicable case law in your state. But my legal sources tell me very few courts around the country would hold that an officer has to be bitten before they could dispatch (i.e., shoot) an attacking dog. The reasonable perception of the threat is enough.

    Next, as with any officer survival issue, you have to expect the unexpected and have a plan of action in place before the threat presents itself. Remember if/then thinking (what some trainers have started to call when/then thinking)? The same applies to canine threats. What you see, hear or smell could telegraph a potential canine attack. Piles of dog excrement, spots of yellow or dead grass in that fenced-in yard, a visible dog run, worn paths along a chain link fence, water/food dishes or rawhide bones may not be as obvious as a large red “Beware of Dog” sign, but they can be cues that a unfriendly pooch is around. Thus, awareness is your first line of defense.

    What about OC Spray?
    If you have time, OC spray might be an option. But just like with human attackers, there are some caveats. Studies have shown that goal-oriented people usually finish their task before succumbing to OC’s effects. Most less-lethal force trainers, when conducting OC user and/or instructor classes, require a taste test on cops. In other words, they have the student/officers perform an assortment of tasks secure their weapon, radio out their location, etc. before they allow them to decontaminate.

    Tests on police service dogs have shown the same thing. When given a task, like taking down a suspect, a well-trained police service dog will not allow itself to react to OC’s effects until it has finished its job. Even a marginally trained attack dog used for fence-line or perimeter protection at The Sphincter Brothers’ Pharmaceutical Company will probably fight through your OC spray to get at you.

    Also, keep in mind that unless your agency has an administrative requirement, no law mandates you use a lower level of force before you resort to deadly force against a deadly threat. In other words, you don’t have to attempt OC on an attacking dog before resorting to your firearm.

    Delivering Deadly Force
    Okay, so you and Rodney the Rotty have met face-to-face, and you’ve decided to shoot. Where do you shoot to stop the threat fast?

    Just as in edged weapon defense, first you have to mentally prepare yourself that you’re probably going to get bitten if you’re surprised by a sudden canine attack. But just as being shot doesn’t mean the fight’s over for you, being bitten doesn’t mean you’re out of the dogfight either.

    Most physical countermeasures suggest using your reactionary hand to deliver a distraction punch during empty-hand encounters with humans. That limb (your off hand) might also be the least critical area you want to offer the attacking animal. Most vicious dogs bent on attack will usually go for the first available limb. Better it be your off hand than your neck or gun hand.

    Once he’s locked on, if you’ve mentally prepared yourself and haven’t panicked, your next concern is where to shoot. Contrary to conventional thinking, it’s going to be the chest area, not the head. There are three reasons for this. First, if Fang’s got a good grip on your hand or wrist, you might hit your own arm when you take that head shot. Second, the dog’s head is probably going to be moving fast back and forth. That’s just canine instinct. Finally, the head is also protected by a lot of thick bone.

    So think human being, and think center of mass. A lower point of aim (to clear your hand or arm) to the chest area will probably be your best bet. And don’t forget double-taps or even triple-taps if you think you’re dealing with Rin-Tin-Tin’s illegitimate grandson.

    However, if Fang has let go of your hand and his mouth is still open, fire right into the mouth. Your best chance of penetration into the brain is via that route.

    Lastly, because we’re talking about firearms and dogs, let’s get down to realistic ballistics. Pit bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans and other guard dogs are probably going to come up on the short end of the stick when meeting the business end of your .40 S&W or .45 ACP, if you’ve placed your shots correctly.

    However, if Dicky the Dope Dealer has decided to invest several thousand dollars of his hard-earned profits in a 130+ lb. Presa Canario (a Canary Island dog), you’d better be thinking 12 gauge double-aught buck. Purebred Presas are rare; they’re usually cross-bred with English Mastiffs. They’re the up-and-coming guard dog for meth labs and crack houses, though, and the newest fashion accessory for street punks. Presa breeders have reported that demand for these dogs originally bred to guard farms and cattle, but eventually used by the Canary Islanders for the so-called sport of dog fighting have tripled and even quadrupled. These massive animals have thick skin,very dense bones and, like pit bulls and Rottweilers, very powerful jaws. With heads the size of small refrigerators, they may not even react to 230 grains of lead. But a well-placed ounce of rifled slug may get their attention.

    If you’re looking for some great firearms training drills for defense against attacking dogs, pick up a copy ofCombat Gunfighting(www.combatgunfighting.com) by New York-based firearms trainer Mike Rayburn. His chapter “When Dogs Attack: Winning the K-9 Assault” is chock full of courses of fire for this type of threat. You might think about incorporating some of them into your next range/firearms in-service.

    Remember: All dogs can be abused and trained to be vicious. This article is not an indictment of any particular breed. However, keep in mind that criminals are always looking for the edge in furthering their illegal enterprises, and some breeds more than others give them that edge. Your job, as a police officer, is to arrest the offenders. In furtherance of your goal, you may have to stop the threat–even a canine threat.

    That’s it for now. Stay safe.

    1. I’ve noticed these retarded cartoon names for the cartoon “bad guys” in many things written by cops. It’s especially prevalent on cop blogs and message boards. What the fuck is this shit? Is this the way cops see the world? Is it much easier to shoot a cartoon character when the whole world is a cartoon or video game? It’s certainly a window into the mind of the average cop, or should I say Officer Barbrady, or Chief Wiggum, or some other retarded cartoon cop.

  11. Mohave County is pretty fucked up. Mohave County doens’t retain the sharpest knives in the drawer. Most move on. to be a sherriff’s officer, you really on need a pulse.

  12. Oh, yeah,Judge Gurtler is a fucking drunk.

  13. Curious, what would be your appraisal of a lawsuit against Walmart for firing an employee for signing a pro-pot petition?

    If it’s different, you’re claiming that government workers have constitutional rights that people who make an honest living don’t. Not very libertarian, I must say.

    1. tulpa, the first amendment specifically applies to govt.

      it does not (generally speaking) apply to private persons

      thus, as i have explained before, public employees have certain rights vis a vis both on and off duty speech that employees of private companies do not

  14. Hey, this is “the wife” from that story. Just wanted to let you know I do have my own e-mail address. Three, in fact, plus two facebook accounts. I have no idea how many accounts Joe has. We’re not a “creepy e-mail sharing couple” – well, at least not as creepy as you might be imagining.

  15. I salute you brothers and sisters!


  16. If you’re a Prohibitionist then you owe us answers to the following questions:

    #1. Why do you rejoice at the fact that we have all been stripped of our 4th amendment rights and are now totally subordinate to a corporatized, despotic government with a heavily armed and corrupt, militarized police force whose often deadly intrusions into our homes and lives are condoned by an equally corrupt and spineless judiciary?

    #2. Why do you wish to continue to spend $50 billion a year to prosecute and cage your fellow citizens for choosing drugs which are not more dangerous than those of which you yourself use and approve of such as alcohol and tobacco?

    #3. Do you honestly expect the rest of us to look on passively while you waste another trillion dollars on this ruinously expensive garbage policy?

    #4. Why are your waging war on your own family, friends and neighbors?

    #5. Why are you so complacent with the fact that our once ‘free & proud’ nation now has the largest percentage of it’s citizenry incarcerated than any other on the entire planet?

    #6. Why are you helping to fuel a budget crisis to the point of closing hospitals, schools and libraries?

    #7. Why do you rejoice at wasting precious resources on prohibition related undercover work while rapists and murderers walk free, while additionally, many cases involving murder and rape do not even get taken to trial because law enforcement priorities are subverted by your beloved failed and dangerous policy?

    #8. Why are you such a supporter of the ‘prison industrial complex’ to the extent of endangering our own children?

  17. Suppose he’d signed a petition urging the voters of California to “keep pot illegal.” Would his employer have insisted (on penalty of firing) that he specify that he didn’t speak for his department? Would they have been hypersensitive to the nuances of his disclaimer if a disclaimer were in fact included in the petition? Would they have conducted an investigation and accused him of lying?

    If not, then one of two conclusions would follow: (a) the govt. is engaging in viewpoint-based discrimination based on what employees say or (b) the employee who signed the petition was, in fact, speaking for his department, in which case a govt agency in one state is lobbying voters in a neighboring state – using taxpayer money to do it, of course. That would dilute the usual excuse that “we just enforce the law, we have no role in what the law actually is.”

    1. I should have said the *hypothetical* employee who signed the *hypothetical* petition.

    2. Interesting you should ask this, because there were a couple of people who also worked for the county/court system and who publicly supported petitions, etc. to continue the prohibition of marijuana and didn’t hve a disclaimer of any sort. Nothing happened to them.

  18. Dear married people,

    Get your own email address.

  19. Nathania, you don’t share at least one or two email accounts with your significant other?

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