Do you know what a “Garrity warning” is?

You supervise an employee in your school district who is accused of wrongdoing.  If what you have heard turns out to be true, the employee has not only violated school policy—the employee has committed a crime as well.  The employee could be fired, and could face criminal prosecution.   You are responsible for conducting an investigation into this matter, including an interview of the employee.

It would be a real good idea for you to contact your school attorney and inquire about Garrity v. New Jersey.  This case, cited as 385 U.S. 493, was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967.  The case established the general legal principle that a public employee can invoke the 5th Amendment right to refuse to self-incriminate when the employee’s wrongdoing  might lead to criminal prosecution.  Thus, a “Garrity Warning” is due. The warning would advise the employee of the distinction between criminal prosecution vs. administrative proceedings leading to job termination.  The 5th Amendment applies to the criminal aspect only.  If you refuse to answer your employer’s legitimate questions, you might lose your job. But your silence should not be used against you in a criminal case. 

Call your attorney about this.  The specific wording of a Garrity Warning is important, and may vary depending on the circumstances. But if you start that conversation by telling your school lawyer that you need help with a “Garrity Warning” I can guarantee that your lawyer will be impressed.  The lawyer will instantly know that you are a Daily Dawg reader!