In light of a Superior Court ruling earlier this month, a former Santa Barbara County Public Defender will proceed with his discrimination and harassment charges against the County CEO.
Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle made the final ruling on Feb. 5, granting Public Defender James Egar the opportunity to argue his claims in court against his former employer, CEO Mike Brown. The initial 50-page lawsuit was filed against the county on May 18, 2007 and detailed 16 various claims – ten which were dismissed by Anderle – citing instances in which Brown allegedly spat on Egar and threatened to “slaughter” him in front of his co-workers.
According to the suit, Brown became antagonistic when Egar requested additional resources and better working conditions. The prosecution also brought claims against the county for failing to discipline Brown for his alleged behavior and purportedly fostering a hostile work environment. According to Jeffrey Dinkin , legal representative on behalf of Brown and the County, Egar’s ability to argue his claims does not necessarily make them sound legal arguments.
“Of the 16 different claims filed by Egar, the court disallowed 10 of them,” Dinkin said. “Egar can proceed with only six of these courses of action. It does not mean that the claims are valid. It just means that Egar can try to show that the actual facts support his legal theories, which they do not.”
Dinkin also said Egar’s primary complaint concerned the allotment of resources and funding for the Public Defender’s office. Egar purportedly disagreed with the manner in which the County balanced the budget needs of its departments. Dinkin claimed that Egar’s legal suit is wasting the scant County resources he had once demanded for the Public Defender’s Office.
“It is ironic that Egar is now causing the County to expend precious financial resources fighting a merit-less case, when those resources could be better used to fund County services,” Dinkin said.
Egar voluntarily left his position as Public Defender of Santa Barbara County and secured a higher-paying job as the Public Defender of Monterey County last year. Since then, Dinkin has asserted that Egar’s more lucrative occupation was his motivation for quitting, rather than Brown’s alleged harassment.
The Daily Nexus attempted to contact Egar multiple times through the Monterey County’s Public Defender’s Office to respond to these allegations, however no phone calls were returned.
A trial date was scheduled for October 7, 2008. Dinkin said that although Egar’s six claims were passed through one rung of the legal system, he remains confident that a preliminary court will dismiss them.
“We anticipate filing a motion for summary judgment whereby we ask the Court to again review the case and the facts, and rule that the remaining six claims are without merit,” Dinkin said. “We are optimistic that the court will do so.”