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Okla. Officer to Appeal Ruling in Mosque Event Refusal

A police captain who sued the city over his punishment for refusing to attend a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at a mosque filed notice Wednesday that he will appeal a ruling in the city's favor.

U.S. Chief District Judge Gregory Frizzell ruled Dec. 13 that "no reasonable jury" could find that Capt. Paul Fields was ordered to attend the March 4, 2011, event at the Islamic Society of Tulsa's mosque because "the directive at issue permitted him to assign others to attend rather than attend himself."

Fields, who had sued on Feb. 23, 2011, had refused to attend or order his subordinates to attend. He was suspended for 40 hours without pay for violating a department rule on obedience and another 40 hours for conduct unbecoming an officer. He also was transferred temporarily from the Tulsa Police Department's Riverside Division to another patrol shift at the Mingo Valley Division.

An arbitrator found in September that Fields should receive pay that was withheld as discipline for violation of an order and should get his former assignment back.

Frizzell said at the outset of a Dec. 11 hearing that he was not bound by the arbitrator's ruling in his consideration of the lawsuit.

Robert Muise, co-founder and senior counsel of the American Freedom Law Center -- which describes itself as a "Judeo-Christian law firm that fights for faith and freedom" -- filed notice with the federal court in Tulsa on Wednesday that Fields is appealing Frizzell's decision to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

Also Wednesday, Fields announced an appeal of Frizzell's November 2011 ruling that Fields could not expand his lawsuit to include a First Amendment freedom of speech claim.

Copyright 2012 - Tulsa World, Okla.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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