Federal appeals court upholds $600,000 civil-rights verdict against Sheriff Cabral
Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral violated the First Amendment rights of a nurse working with the FBI in 2003 to investigate possible guard violence against inmates at the Suffolk County House of Corrections, a federal appeals court ruled today.
Cabral said she barred Sheila Porter from the jail because she failed to fill out the proper paperwork on an inmate who claimed his injuries were inflicted by a guard. However, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit agreed with a lower court that Cabral effectively fired the nurse for talking to the FBI - which the court said was a violation of the woman's First Amendment rights.
The court also upheld more than $600,000 in penalties - $360,000 against the sheriff's office in general and $250,000 against Cabral individually.
The FBI and the US Attorney's office ultimately decided there wasn't enough evidence to file charges related to the inmate allegations. Barring an appeal, the money would go to Porter's husband, John - Sheila Porter died in 2007.