WHEATFIELD – An appeals court ruled Friday that Town Constable Craig M. Schultz’ First Amendment rights weren’t violated in 2011 by a critical letter from a superior that was published in The Buffalo News.
At the time, Schultz was running, unsuccessfully as it turned out, for a seat on the Town Board. Chief Constable Robin R. Zastrow wrote a letter to The News about Schultz that the latter considered defamatory, regarding Schultz’s claim that he had been demoted because of his political challenge to the board incumbents.
Schultz sued Zastrow and the town, but in October 2012, State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto threw out the defamation claim, one of five charges Schultz included in the lawsuit.
The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled Friday that Panepinto should have tossed the First Amendment claim, too, although the lawsuit remains open with three charges against the town still standing.
Schultz asserted that Zastrow’s letter put a chilling effect on his political activities. The court said, “The First Amendment does not afford a plaintiff the right to run a political campaign that is free from public criticism.”