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1998 | Donna Cockrel files suit against Shelby County School District

Updated: Jan 19, 2019

On June 4, 1998, Donna Cockrel sued the Shelby County School District, claiming that she was fired in violation of her First Amendment free speech right to discuss the potential environmental benefits of hemp. While not deciding Cockrel's state law breach-of-contract claim, the trial court granted the school board's motion for summary judgment on the First Amendment retaliation claim, holding that Cockrel's presentation was not protected speech.

Specifically, the court held that Cockrel's speech was private speech by a teacher in her role as an employee, not as a citizen speaking on matters of public concern, and that she did not have a constitutional right to discuss industrial hemp in her classroom.

Click the links below to learn more about the Harrelson and Cockrel trials:



D. Horrigan, 2001. The National Law Journal. (CA) 2001 NLP IP Company

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