U.S. Supreme Court dismisses city's appeal

The Hays Daily News

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed without judgment an appeal by the city of Hays in a civil rights case filed by a former Hays Police officer.

The court dismissed City of Hays V. Vogt as improvidently granted, essentially an order saying it should not have accepted the case.

At question in the case was whether or not using a compelled statement at a probable cause hearing violates a person’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The dismissal upholds the decision of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which found the officer had a valid Fifth Amendment claim against the city.

The case began in 2013 when Hays Police officer Matthew Vogt applied for a job with the Haysville Police Department. During an interview, he disclosed he kept a knife while working for HPD.

The Haysville police offered Vogt the job contingent on returning the knife to HPD.

Vogt returned the knife, and Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler opened an internal affairs investigation to determine if Vogt had violated department policy. Vogt gave a statement about the knife, then gave his two weeks notice, according to court documents.

HPD asked Vogt for a more detailed statement, which Vogt provided. Scheibler then ended the internal investigation and turned the information over to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Vogt was charged with two felony criminal charges, and Haysville withdrew its job offer.

The statements Vogt made in the Hays police internal investigation were used in his preliminary hearing. However, the judge dismissed the charges, citing a lack of probable cause to proceed.

Vogt sued the city, the city of Haysville and four officers of both police departments in U.S. District Court. He claimed, according to the city’s petition, that by threatening to terminate his job if he did not provide additional information about the knife, he was compelled to make incriminating statements that were then used in the preliminary hearing. The district court dismissed the case.

Vogt appealed the dismissal to the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the dismissal of claims against Haysville and the four individual officers, but concluded he had a valid claim against the city of Hays.