Law Clerk Suspended and Then Resigns After Criticizing Police Officer Killed In Accident With Deer

raspajpg-0397ccfc40370108We have previously discussed the increasing trend toward monitoring and disciplining private and public employees for comments on social media. These cases raise difficult questions of free speech in our society. The most recent such case involves Leslie Anderson, a law clerk for a New Jersey judge who resigned after being suspended after she made comments on Facebook criticizing a state trooper who was killed in a crash with a deer. While some praised 24-year-old Anthony Raspa (left) as a hero, Anderson also expressed sympathy for the dead animal, saying “I agree that it is sad and heart-wrenching for the family members left to suffer the consequences of the trooper’s recklessness—especially for the deer family who lost a mommy or daddy or baby deer.”

It is not clear how Anderson viewed the trooper as reckless in the accident since such accidents can occur without any fault of the driver on many roads. Raspa and partner Gene Hong were patrolling on I-195 when their Ford Crown Victoria struck the deer early Saturday. The car careened off the road and hit a tree.

Anderson, a law clerk for Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Travis L. Francis was without question over-the-top in her Facebook posting: “Not that sad, and certainly not ‘tragic,’ Troopers were probably traveling at a dangerously high speed as per usual. Totally preventable. At least they didn’t take any of the citizens they were sworn to serve and protect with them.” She later added that the praise Raspa was receiving by other commenters for his service as “absurd” and “nonsensical” :


“The ‘victim’s’ employment as a state trooper is irrelevant to the circumstances, other than the fact that he injured a fellow trooper and destroyed state property as a result of his recklessness. He wasn’t running into a burning building or otherwise acting within the course of his employment at the time of the accident. The outcry and ‘thank yous’ are absurd, nonsensical, and completely unwarranted. There are people in this country and around the world dying for much less. There is nothing ‘tragic’ about this. Get over yourselves and your sense of entitlement, people . . .

Nonetheless, I agree that it is sad and heart wrenching for the family members left to suffer the consequences of the Trooper’s recklessness — especially for the deer family who lost a mommy or daddy or baby deer.”

The question is not whether these comments are wrong or offensive but the right of someone to engage in such a public debate without fear of retaliation.

I have previously written about concerns that public employees are increasingly being disciplined for actions in their private lives or views or associations outside of work. We have previously seen teachers (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here) students (here, here and here) and other public employees (here and here and here) fired for their private speech or conduct, including school employees fired for posing in magazines (here), appearing on television shows in bikinis (here), or having a prior career in the adult entertainment industry (here).

The question for me is whether she used her court association, which does not appear to be the case. If Anderson was simply engaging in a public discourse, I am concerned that she would be punished for it. She was initially put on a paid suspension before she ultimately resigned under fire from the police association and others. President Chris Burgos insisted that the comments showed that Anderson couldn’t be impartial, but she was merely a law clerk, not the judge.

What do you think?

211 thoughts on “Law Clerk Suspended and Then Resigns After Criticizing Police Officer Killed In Accident With Deer”

  1. Karen S … no worries, this thread went off topic at 9:50 AM 05 June. It’s been a comedy ever since. 😀

  2. I wish ours would thin the hordes of ground squirrels, but they are banned from the property during the day, and the ground squirrel beasties are diurnal.

  3. Since we’re all completely off topic, I saw the most adorable coyote pup by my arena while I was riding. It plopped down in a tiny patch of shade and watched us ride for a while, just barely visible, before teasing my dogs by dashing past our fence. Cute little thing, but hasn’t learned the caution of an adult yet.

    1. Karen – we get coyotes in our green belt areas, help to thin the feral cats.

  4. The highlight of my high school career was getting kick out of class for smiling impudently. 🙂 🙂

  5. Those that comment on here are simply that: commentators. That should not translate into opponents, and it is unfortunate that some believe that the two are synonymous. l know nothing about the lives of those who choose to post here other than what they, themselves, wish to share. This shouldn’t be a venue for demonizing anybody, and it shouldn’t be the place for making absurd assumptions claiming that certain people need to stop watching so much reality TV or that they need to get out of the house for some fresh air. Craziness.

    1. Personally I am not a fan of reality TV but I have never suggested that others stop watching it or go out to get fresh air.

  6. And Paul, no one needs to demonized you, you do it all by yourself.

  7. Paul, you are one of two people here who I do not trust, because there have been so many times that these accusations and assertions you make against me and others here come directly after you have been proven to be wrong, which obviously angers and humiliates you into some retaliatory comment about that person you are angry with. Paul you are very transparent and with these sorts of attacks you make yourself appear to be petty and vindictive.

    1. Inga – I do not have the time or energy to be angry at anyone.

      1. Paul, well you sure do seem to expend a great deal of energy doing so. At our age life is too short and we should be careful how we treat others, including their families. Now I’m off to my imaginary grandchildren’s outing.

  8. Yes BamBam, exactly. I enjoy reading personal anecdotes and tidbits about other commenters lives, it does personalize the blog, but unfortunately there are those who will try to use such information in attempts at character assassination, of those they disagree with politically. And there are those like Paul and another commenter that slyly put out false information about others here with absolutely no data to confirm what they say. It’s like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what they can get to stick. If someone starts a rumor about someone, even if the rumor is 100% erroneous, doubt about the person will then be out there. It’s dirty and underhanded, but I’ve seen it used here many times by two commenters.

  9. Paul C

    Most of the time, I agree with your comments. Here, I don’t. Nobody knows if any of the claims on this site are legit. Call me naive, but I happen to take whatever the commentators allege as true. People on here claim to be private investigators, teachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, etc., and I tend to believe them since I have no reason to disbelieve them. Do you also question all of the other contributors and their respective announcements pertaining to education, livelihoods or experiences? We all share stories and experiences here; it’s part of the beauty of the site.

    1. bam bam – generally I take what others say at face value, however, there are a couple of commenters I do not trust. Blame human nature. Some, like Inga, like to demonize people. She is one I do not trust.

  10. Wade, do you recall the time Paul said that anyone who was a resident of the state of Wisconsin could get into UW Madison regardless of their grades because it is a land grant college? After I dated that my daughter was a graduate of UW Madison, of course. This behavior is not at all unlike Paul, BamBam, it’s what he does quite often. You will see it again if you keep commenting here for any length of time.

  11. BamBam, of course it is. He’s done it before and I’m quite sure he’ll do it again.

  12. bam bam is very discerning.

    It is definitely meant to demean.

  13. Paul C

    What’s the point of asking which law clerk position is more prestigious? Seriously. Is it done in an effort to somehow demean I. Annie’s daughter’s accomplishment of having garnered a law clerk position with a state judge? Mean spirited, at best. Did you not have your Wheaties today? Doesn’t sound like you. Anyone who thinks that attaining a law clerk position, within any level of the judiciary, is an easy task, needs to think again. It’s not. I. Annie is understandably quite proud of her daughter, as she should be. No need to imply that she somehow managed to attain a sub par clerkship.

    1. bam bam – because we cannot doxx I am not sure that Inga has a daughter who is a lawyer.

  14. Who is arguing it Paul? Trying to deflect from the fact that you are wrong once again? Look….. Squirrel!

  15. BamBam, I think the ACLU probably has more liberals in its midst. I disagree with Pogo upstream where he states that it’s a high probability that someone like this woman would be a liberal. It was Pogo who brought up her political affiliation and stated he was surprised she was a conservative.

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