Constables, sheriff lawsuit moved behind closed doors

Two state constables and Lycoming County Sheriff Mark Lusk went before a judge Monday in a closed hearing regarding the constables’ lawsuit against the sheriff’s office.

One lawsuit is filed in county court while two others are filed in federal courts.

The constables allege Lusk violated their right to freedom of speech when Riley ran an unsuccessful bid in the primary election for sheriff.

Both filed joint allegations in a complaint in federal court against Lusk saying he violated their First Amendment right to freedom of speech through harassment and other means.

On July 3, Lusk filed a motion for the U.S. Middle District Court judge to dismiss the First Amendment violation on grounds Riley and Phillips seek monetary compensation and have recharacterized their claims as retaliation in violation of the First Amendment instead of claims of defamation and declaratory judgment, according to the motion filed by Austin White, Lusk’s attorney.

Between the lawsuits in county court and U.S. Middle District Court, Riley and Phillips seek $2.2 million in compensation.