This is an expanded version of a previously published article.
A federal judge has removed Atherton City Councilman Jerry Carlson as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Jon Buckheit, an Atherton resident whose claim also names the town of Atherton, three of its police officers, and San Mateo County.
Judge Joseph C. Spero on March 4 issued his ruling to grant a motion by the town and Mr. Carlson to have the councilman dropped from the lawsuit.
Mr. Carlson said he had no comment about the decision "except that I'm pleased."
Last year, Mr. Buckheit added Mr. Carlson to a lawsuit he filed in 2009 stemming from Mr. Buckheit's arrest during a domestic violence incident at his home.
Mr. Buckheit said naming Mr. Carlson as a defendant was based on his belief that the councilman retaliated against him in April 2010 by not voting for his appointment to the town's Finance Committee, although he was clearly qualified. He said he was told by Councilman Jim Dobbie that Mr. Carlson stated he wouldn't appoint him because of his litigation against the town.
"The government is not supposed to retaliate against people who air grievances," Mr. Buckheit told the Almanac last year. "It's actually against the law -- the Civil Rights Act -- and for obvious reasons."
Judge Spero ruled that the claim of retaliation was based on hearsay and speculation. " ... (N)o reasonable jury could conclude on the basis of this speculation alone that (Mr. Carlson) retaliated against (Mr. Buckheit) based upon this lawsuit," he wrote.
Mr. Buckheit said he was disappointed with the ruling, adding that "some wires have gotten crossed somewhere in (regards to) truthfulness."
Meanwhile, a mediation session was held on Feb. 28 between Mr. Buckheit and the town to try to settle the legal complaint. Although he said he couldn't talk about what transpired during the talks, Mr. Buckheit noted that the mediation has concluded and "the case is continuing."
A trial is expected to be scheduled in federal court sometime this year.
Mr. Buckheit was arrested in 2008 after calling the police to his home, saying he was the victim of an assault by his then-girlfriend, who was living at there at the time. He was never charged, but the police refused to give him the police report on the incident until he sued to obtain it.
Once he had it, he found that, in addition to a charge that he had been the aggressor during the incident, the report included a charge of child abuse against the girlfriend's young son. He later added the three police officers involved in the incident as defendants in the lawsuit.
In early 2010, Mr. Buckheit obtained a declaration of factual innocence in San Mateo County Superior Court.