Supreme Court rejects case of Nazi imitators

February 23, 1994

WASHINGTON -- Two former leaders of the Howard County sheriff's department failed yesterday to get the Supreme Court to hear their constitutional challenge to being fired for imitating Nazis while on the job.

Former Major Donald Pruitt and his brother, former Sergeant Dennis Pruitt, the No. 2 and 3 ranking officers in the department, were fired in February 1991 by the then-newly elected sheriff, Michael Chichiolo.

While running for the sheriff's post, Mr. Chichiolo criticized the Pruitts for staging parodies of the old TV series, "Hogan's Heroes," in the County Courthouse. The two acted in Nazi-like roles, with gestures and feigned Germanic speech.

They sued in state court, claiming they were fired for expressing their rights of free speech. State courts rejected the challenge, and the Supreme Court voted yesterday to leave that outcome intact.

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