League City can't compel cop to take polygraph, judge rules

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Sep. 12, 2011, 4:39pm

GALVESTON - A local visiting judge granted a League City police officer's request for a temporary restraining order against the city of League City and Police Chief Michael Jez.

On Sept. 9, Acting Judge Mary Nell Crapitto ordered the defendants not to force Eric Leland into taking a polygraph examination or discipline him for failing to submit to one.

Leland sued the city and Chief Jez in Galveston County 212th District Court a few days before, claiming "the defendants through their actions and claims, have caused uncertainty and insecurity with respect to the plaintiff's rights, status and other legal relations."

According to the original petition, the defendants wanted to test Leland in light of a recent admission he made to the department about his romantic relationship with a female colleague.

According to the suit, the colleague was the records supervisor for the police department and she allegedly had asked Leland to look into a stalking incident targeting her.

The action drew the attention of Leland's superiors, who grilled him and the woman about the nature of their relationship. Leland told the department there was nothing romantic between them, according to the suit.

Leland eventually started seeing the woman, who has since resigned from the police department, court papers say.

They each notified their supervisors about the change in their relationship in an effort to comply with workplace policy, but authorities opened an investigation into violations of the city's fraternization policy, the suit says.

Leland insists that "at least 12 employees at the department are married or openly dating and cohabiting with other department employees and supervisors."

He states he was reassigned to another division despite the lack of investigative findings.

The department later put him back on patrol, but changed his schedule and informed him that he needed to take a polygraph examination.

The suit argues that the defendants have "insufficient" evidence to support compelling an examination from Leland, emphasizing the plaintiff and his girlfriend adhered to policy.

A hearing with Galveston County 212th District Court Judge Susan Criss presiding is set for Sept. 23.

Case No. 11-cv-1431

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