Identity of Speakers
Chauncey Depree was a tenured professor at the University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Business.
Incident Political Orientation:
- Did not involve Speech Codes
Chauncey Depree was a tenured professor at the University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Business. In August 2007, Depree was relieved of all teaching functions and service obligations to the university due to complaints about his behavior detailed in a letter from the dean of the College of Business. Following an investigation by the university ombudsman, the university enlisted the services of a mental help professional to assess Depree’s fitness to teach and kept the restrictions on his teaching in place. Depree’s benefits, pay, title, and tenure remained as they were before these events occurred, but Depree refused to undergo a mental health evaluation.
Within weeks of receiving this unwelcome news, Depree filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi against various university administrators, alleging First Amendment retaliation, Due Process violations under the Fourteenth Amendment, and various state law claims. The district court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, holding that Depree failed to show a constitutional violation because he had not been subjected to adverse employment action and did not have a protectible property interest in teaching as opposed to research.
On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of the defendants sued in their individual capacities, while it reversed and remanded the judgment denying injunctive relief. On June 16, 2010, the plaintiff’s petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States was dismissed.