Tulsa Police Captain Paul Fields gained national attention almost two years ago when he refused an order to attend an event at a local mosque. Police officers had attended similar events in the past, but attendance had never been mandatory before.
Capt. Fields was disciplined by his superiors for his refusal to obey the order. With the help of the Thomas More Law Center, he sued the police department in a federal court for violating his First Amendment rights by forcing him to attend a religious event that went against his own religious beliefs.
The case went to court this week, and today U.S. District Court Chief Judge Gregory Frizzell handed down a decision against Capt. Fields. Here’s the story from News On 6:
Judge Dismisses Capt. Paul Fields’ Case Against City Of Tulsa
TULSA, Oklahoma — A federal judge has ruled against Tulsa Police Captain Paul Fields and his law suit against the City of Tulsa.
He had sued the city after being disciplined for refusing to attend or order his officers to attend a law enforcement appreciation day event at a mosque.
Fields said following that order violated his religious rights.
The judge said Fields did not have to attend, but had the option to send others, so his religious rights were not violated.
The judge added, even if Fields had been ordered to go, he did not have to partake of the religious services being offered at the event.
Below is a TV news report on the case from earlier this week, before the decision. Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for uploading this video:
Here’s a more detailed report on today’s decision from KRMG Radio:
Federal judge rules against Tulsa Police Captain Paul Fields in his religious rights case against TPD
Shortly before 5:00 P.M., a federal judge ruled against Tulsa Police Captain Paul Fields in his religious rights case against the Tulsa Police Department.
Fields sued the department after he was punished for refusing to attend or order officers to attend a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at a Tulsa mosque in March 2011.
Captain Fields said he refused the order, because it was against his religious beliefs, which are protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Lawyers for both sides made their final arguments before the judge Tuesday afternoon.
KRMG spoke with Fields’ lead attorney, Robert Muise, minutes after the decision was handed down. Muise tells KRMG that they plan to appeal. Muise says, “I think the judge made some errors along the way and I don’t think he is correct in his outcome. We will challenge that in the 10th Circuit.”
KRMG also spoke with Brandon Burris who represented the City of Tulsa. Burris believes the city’s case is strong and isn’t worried about an appeal. Burris says, “It would be very difficult for Captain Fields to prevail given how well Judge Frizzell addressed the law and the facts in this case.”
Fields was suspended for 2-weeks without pay for violating two police department policies – duty to be truthful and obedient and conduct unbecoming an officer or police employee. Fields was also reassigned to the graveyard shift and was not be eligible for promotion for one year.