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. @ Nick Spinelli

    “Afro-American” is so 1977.”

    “Is it Throwback Friday? I’ll dig out some bell bottoms and fire up the lava lamp.”

    Extraordinarily lame, Nick, even for you.

    Try to work up another diversion, perhaps with “borderline personality disorder” thrown in it somewhere. 🙂

  2. You need to pick up the pace on your grammar. And, yes, I am talking to you and only you.

  3. Or it could have something to do with Yiddish.

    Or something.

  4. fiver,

    Oops. I seek no special consideration for the ‘studder’.

  5. fiver

    Quite so. Perhaps you will find it in your heart to forgive me. You see, unlike Schulte, I didn’t go to grad school. I was educated in public schools and I learned the phrase in fourth grade. Apparently, in Arizona it isn’t taught until until pursuing a PhD.

    1. Apparently, in Arizona it isn’t taught until until pursuing a PhD.

      Grammar checker helps.

      Apparently, in Arizona, it isn’t taught until you are pursuing a PhD.

  6. Wadewilliams
    1, June 5, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Teacher! Teacher!

    Isn’t the correct phrase “couldn’t care less?”

    Yes. Also, unlike a period, a question mark belongs after the quotation mark unless the question mark is part of the quoted material.

    Muphry’s Law 😛

    Now I’m wondering where my mistake is.

  7. @NickS

    I’m glad you liked it! I check in on Pansies For Plato every so often when I am feeling sadistic and want to watch somebody suffering. Because those people suffer a whole lot what with global warming, and cops killing feral blacks, and people poking fun at trannies and FOX News, and the Koch Brothers! I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of them hyper-ventilated themselves to death one day. I wish I could send some paper sacks to them, to breath into during those panic attacks. But, they would probably just misinterpret my concern, and seek a restraining order or whatever. I do feel really sorry for the guy whose kid died, though.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  8. Teacher! Teacher!

    Isn’t the correct phrase “couldn’t care less?”

  9. You should talk to Inga about bookmarking. She is always coming up with this things that are years old from Turley’s blog.

  10. Paul, Depressed, angry, lonely people obsessed w/ others who are happy and successful. They watch reality TV to try and connect w/ people instead of getting out of their little apartment and doing something w/ their lives. They remember every little thing we say because they have nothing in their lives. I feel a little sorry for them but mostly what I feel is disgust.

  11. What does knowing African Americans have to do with anything? I know several African-Americans. My tax accountant is an African-American. My cardiologist is Muslim. My allergist is Asian. My wife and all her relatives are Asian. My students have been primarily African-American and Latino and I keep in touch with many of them.

    Still, none of that has anything to do with anything.

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