Hearing tomorrow for Tulsa police captain who refused to attend mosque event
BY MICHAEL OVERALL World Staff Writer
Monday, December 10, 2012
12/10/12 at 2:56 PM
A federal judge will hear arguments Tuesday on behalf of a Tulsa police officer who refused to attend an event at a local mosque.
Robert Muise, a co-founder and senior counsel for the non-profit American Freedom Law Center, will ask for summary judgment in favor of Capt. Paul Fields.
In 2011, Fields was suspended after he refused to go to a “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day” at the mosque and also refused to order his subordinates to attend.
Fields was suspended for 40 hours without pay for allegedly violating the department's rule on being obedient and another 40 hours for purportedly violating a rule on conduct unbecoming an officer. He also was temporarily transferred from the Police Department's Riverside Division to another patrol shift at the Mingo Valley Division.
A practicing Christian, Fields alleged that the Tulsa Police Department violated his freedom of religion by ordering him to go a mosque. Fields sued Deputy Chief Daryl Webster, the city of Tulsa and Police Chief Chuck Jordan in federal court on Feb. 23, 2011, for unspecified damages.
An arbitrator found in September that the city failed to establish that it had ordered Fields to attend or to order others to attend and that the discipline for alleged violation of an order should be reversed. But he found that the discipline for conduct unbecoming an officer should be upheld.
He said Fields should receive the pay that was withheld as discipline for violation of an order and should get his former assignment back.
U.S. Chief District Judge Gregory Frizzell said Nov. 1 that the arbitrator's decision did not affect the liability issues in the federal lawsuit and was not relevant to the respective motions for summary judgment.
In this Nov. 14 file photo, Tulsa Police Cpt. Paul Fields leaves Tulsa federal courthouse after a hearing in his civil case was delayed. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World File