The mayor and other city officials in the fishing community of Gloucester, Massachusetts are protected under qualified immunity against claims by the city’s harbormaster that they violated his First Amendment rights.

The harbormaster sued the mayor, city solicitor, chief administrative officer and human resources officer for allegedly violating his free speech rights when they retaliated against him because of expert witness testimony he gave as a private consultant.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals said the officials are protected because as public officials they had reasonable concerns that the harbormaster’s testimony against a local boat captain would damage the city’s reputation and relations with the Gloucester fishing community.

The federal appeals court upheld the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the city officials on

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