Daundi Boren is a long time resident of Leon County and former employee of Leon County.
Boren was employed as the 9-1-1 Addressing and Emergency Coordinator from approximately November of 2015 through June 7, 2022.
Boren, a long-time employee Leon County, Texas, was fired because of her post on social media related to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (“TDCJ”) mishandling of the prisoner that escaped and remained at large for more than 3 weeks.
In other words, Boren was terminated for engaging in public speech relating to a matter of public concern in violation of the rights guaranteed to her by U.S. Const. amend. I.
On May 12, 2022, a convicted murderer who was in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (“TDCJ”), Gonzalo Lopez, escaped a TDCJ prison bus. Gonzalo Lopez fled into a wooded area and was on the lam for three weeks. While escaped in Leon County, he killed one man and his four grandchildren in Leon County, Texas. He was eventually apprehended and shot by law enforcement in early June of 2022, more than 250 miles from where his victims died in Leon County.
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The incident was nationally publicized across media outlets throughout the country and was a matter of public concern and safety. On June 3, 2022, Boren took to social media and expressed her views about the prisoner escape and the TDCJ on Facebook. When Boren criticized TDCJ, she was speaking as a citizen on a matter of public concern and safety (for example, law enforcement ineptitude). Leon County officials, including County Judge Byron Ryder did not share Boren’s views.
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In fact they vehemently disagreed with Boren’s criticisms of TDCJ. But, as the Supreme Court put it: If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalist, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not occur to us.
West Virginia St. Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 642 (1943).
After seeing the post, Ryder directed Boren to remove the post, citing that it was a derogatory message. While not constitutionally required, Boren removed her post. And despite this clearly established constitutional right to engage in dissenting, critical or unpopular speech, Leon County and Ryder have censored and retaliated against Boren for publicly expressing viewpoints on matters of public concern that are critical of or otherwise unfavorable to the government.
Almost immediately after, Boren was summoned to a meeting with Judge Ryder on Monday, June 6, 2022 to discuss her Facebook post.
On Monday, June 6, 2022, Judge Ryder, Jimmy Carrigan, Tammy Sanders, and Daundi Boren met in Judge Ryder’s office. Despite knowing that Boren’s Facebook post was directed at the TDCJ and not Leon County, she was instructed to refrain from posting about any matters that may have any relation to Leon County and other agencies because she represented Leon County and remarks like hers were detrimental to Leon County and agencies associated with them.
After the discussion, Judge Ryder informed Ms. Boren that he would consider the matter closed unless there were further complaints.
Later that morning, another Leon County department head complained about Boren’s Facebook post.
Additionally, the Leon County Sherriff questioned whether the county was going to allow Boren’s Facebook post to go unpunished.
Despite Ms. Boren exercising her right of free speech by publicly expressing her opinion on a widely known matter of public concern, Leon County took disciplinary measures in retaliation for Boren’s speech.
On June 7, 2022, Leon County and Ryder presented Boren with a disciplinary write-up suspending her for 3 days without pay.
Leon County and Ryder demanded that Boren sign the disciplinary write-up agreeing with the 3 day suspension.
When Boren refused to sign the write-up agreeing with the disciplinary measures, Leon County and Ryder terminated her.
As a result of Defendants’ conduct, Boren was terminated for engaging in speech
concerning a matter of public concern as a private citizen in violation of the rights guaranteed
to her by U.S. Const. amend. I.
This also upset Boren’s plans for a Political Career and election to the Centerville City Council
Document 1 - Original Complaint