Whistling Past Sovereign Immunity

In this whistleblower lawsuit, Ginger Weatherspoon alleged that the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) retaliated against her and ultimately terminated her employment after she reported that she was pressured to sign a false affidavit.   According to Ms. Weatherspoon, the affidavit was going to be used to support a judicial misconduct complaint against a district judge in Dallas (apparently, Judge David Hanschen).

The OAG sought to have Ms. Weatherspoon’s case dismissed based on sovereign immunity, and moved for summary judgment on that basis.  The Texas Government Code waives sovereign immunity for claims brought under the Texas Whistleblower Act, but, in order for a claim to fall within the purview of that statute, the alleged conduct must be reported to “an appropriate law enforcement authority.”  The OAG argued that Ms. Weatherspoon did not make her report to an appropriate law enforcement authority because she reported the alleged conduct only to her division head in the Child Support Division of the OAG.  The Court of Appeals disagreed, and upheld the trial court’s decision to deny the OAG’s Motion, because Ms. Weatherspoon’s division head was required to forward her report to the OAG’s Office of Special Investigations–an appropriate law enforcement authority.

Office of Attorney General v. Weatherspoon, No. 05-00632-CV

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