PDA

View Full Version : OC Sheriff Candidate Bill Hunt takes on corrupt Sheriff in court today


Jamsie567
10-13-2009, 10:48 AM
A 3 year battle is about to come to an end for Orange County Sheriff Candidate Bill Hunt this week. The question is will freedom of speech prevail or will the case go to the federally indicted ex-sheriff Mike Corona.

Monday, October 12, 2009
Ex-sheriff, former rival to face off in court
Trial to begin Tuesday in lawsuit by ex-Lt. Bill Hunt, who ran for sheriff against his boss, then was demoted.
By RACHANEE SRISAVASDI
The Orange County Register
Comments 87| Recommended9

Right before sentencing ex-sheriff Mike Carona to 5 ½ years in prison, a federal judge criticized him for victimizing Orange County.

Now, the county, with a team of lawyers, is coming to Carona's defense.

The county and Carona are co-defendants in a political retaliation lawsuit brought by Carona's former election rival, ex-Lt. Bill Hunt, and testimony is expected to begin Tuesday in federal court in Los Angeles.

Hunt, who lost to Carona in the 2006 race for sheriff, was demoted after the election because of criticism he levied against Carona's administration.

" Isn't that a crying shame? They are forced to defend a convicted criminal,'' said Villa Park council member Deborah Pauly, who endorsed Hunt in 2006. "Unfortunately, sometimes it's how the justice system works."

Both Carona, who is free pending an appeal, and Hunt, who is running for sheriff again next year, are expected to take the witness stand.

The jury trial will center on this question: Did Carona have the right to demote Hunt, who was then the chief of police services in San Clemente?

Hunt alleges his criticism of Carona was protected under the First Amendment.

The county argues that Hunt's criticism was not protected speech because Hunt, as a member of Carona's executive team who was running for office, could be subject to termination.

Norman Watkins, the county's lawyer, said Hunt "led a dissident office faction which stridently attacked" Carona's administration, according to a recent filing in the case.

"By his own admission, Hunt leveled a series of heated attacks on the sitting sheriff prior to his transfer – questioning the incumbent's competence, integrity and priorities,'' Watkins wrote. "The Sheriff's Department thereafter fractured into antagonistic factions and the resulting infighting carried the potential to disrupt the Department's ability to effectively function into the indefinite future."

"Given Hunt's openly hostile conduct, and the requirements of the San Clemente Chief's position, even the most naοve politician would have protected his agenda by removing Hunt from this sensitive command position,'' Watkins also wrote.

Hunt offers a different account.

Hunt admits to criticizing Carona's performance as sheriff, but said it did not disrupt his job as a police chief or result in any complaints. He also contends Carona never informed him then that he might be committing misconduct – though Carona launched an internal probe.

Hunt was put on administrative leave immediately after the June 2006 election, and demoted to a deputy sheriff rank five months later. He resigned in December 2006, and started his own private investigation firm.

Hunt, who spent more than 22 years at the Sheriff's Department, sued in June 2007.

The demotion resulted in a reduced salary and benefits, as well as "personal and professional humiliation and indignity,'' which "resulted in his creative discharge by resignation," according to a trial brief written by Hunt's lawyer, Richard Levine.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for violation of Hunt's constitutional and statutory rights. It also seeks injunctive relief to restore Hunt as a lieutenant assigned as police chief in San Clemente.

The litigation was initially assigned to U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford – the jurist who sentenced Carona – before it was moved to U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow in Los Angeles.

Besides Hunt and Carona, several former sheriff's officials could take the stand, including former undersheriff JoAnn Galisky – who was forced to resign in February 2008 in the wake of the department's handling of a jail beating death.

Also on the witness list is now-retired Lt. Jeff Bardzik, who is pursuing a similar federal lawsuit that alleges Carona demoted him because he supported Hunt.

"The county couldn't prevent anything Carona did,'' Baruch said. "It's kind of sad, the county now has to pick up the bill, but that's the structure of government."

SteveH
10-13-2009, 3:43 PM
Considering that confirmed scumbag Jaramillo won his case and got something like $400K in back pay, I expect Hunt will win his as he really did get screwed.

dchang0
10-13-2009, 3:48 PM
I've met Hunt in person, and he is a stand-up guy. This is a guy who deserves our support, especially as he very clearly stated that he supports our 2nd Amendment rights.

ZUMNDAD
10-13-2009, 8:14 PM
I've met Hunt in person, and he is a stand-up guy. This is a guy who deserves our support, especially as he very clearly stated that he supports our 2nd Amendment rights.

http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d100/zumndad/iagree.gif +100000

wilit
10-13-2009, 8:29 PM
"By his own admission, Hunt leveled a series of heated attacks on the sitting sheriff prior to his transfer – questioning the incumbent's competence, integrity and priorities,'' Watkins wrote.

So lemme get this straight. Hunt was demoted after questioning Carona's competence and integrity. The same competence and integrity that got Carona 5.5 years in club fed? Sounds like an easy win for Hunt.

demnogis
10-13-2009, 8:52 PM
I don't think Carona went to Club Fed. He's out pending an appeal, is he not?

So lemme get this straight. Hunt was demoted after questioning Carona's competence and integrity. The same competence and integrity that got Carona 5.5 years in club fed? Sounds like an easy win for Hunt.

Jamsie567
10-14-2009, 10:07 AM
I don't think Carona went to Club Fed. He's out pending an appeal, is he not?

Yep he is still out free as a bird pending on appeal. It's a joke the guy is free he should be in an orange jumpsuit behind bars. I hope more people back Hunt he can do a lot for the Pro 2A community to champion this cause.

Another article already up on day 1 of the trial.
http://www.ocregister.com/articles/carona-hunt-sheriff-2606314-department-county

Mitch
10-14-2009, 10:09 AM
Hunt may be the cat's pyjama's, but I would sure be surprised if my employees enjoyed a First Amendment right to publicly criticize me without risk of any recourse from myself.

1859sharps
10-14-2009, 10:33 AM
Hunt may be the cat's pyjama's, but I would sure be surprised if my employees enjoyed a First Amendment right to publicly criticize me without risk of any recourse from myself.

As a candidate for the office of Sheriff, the LT is protected in making accusations and claims. it's all part of running for a political office. Being demoted because of things said as a candidate crosses the line. It's a violation of the 1st and frankly offensive to the process.

This isn't the same as your employee being critical of you. apples and oranges.

Mitch
10-14-2009, 10:43 AM
As a candidate for the office of Sheriff, the LT is protected in making accusations and claims. it's all part of running for a political office. Being demoted because of things said as a candidate crosses the line. It's a violation of the 1st and frankly offensive to the process.

This isn't the same as your employee being critical of you. apples and oranges.

I'm not sure. Slippery slope.

I was all for Hunt calling out the sleazeball Carona when he did, but I was surprised at his surprise that there would be retaliation. Carona was his boss, after all.

Jamsie567
10-14-2009, 10:44 AM
So lemme get this straight. Hunt was demoted after questioning Carona's competence and integrity. The same competence and integrity that got Carona 5.5 years in club fed? Sounds like an easy win for Hunt.

You got it right he questioned his boss in the election and got demoted all of his alligations were proven true a year later after Corona was indicted. The whole department new that Corona was crook but Hunt was the only who had the courage to stand up. He ended up taking Corona to a run off in the primary and lost in 06 by 1% 3440 votes.

It sounds like an easy win but unfortunatly no one wins unless Hunt settles the case. A victory would be a personal victory for him but take away more tax payers money. I will be interested in seeing how this plays out.

KCM222
10-14-2009, 11:11 AM
I'm not sure. Slippery slope.

I was all for Hunt calling out the sleazeball Carona when he did, but I was surprised at his surprise that there would be retaliation. Carona was his boss, after all.

This isn't a slippery slope.

As a public official you are subject to public scrutiny and you can't compare a political discourse to a private company's employee "bad mouthing" the owner.

U2BassAce
10-14-2009, 11:48 AM
I'm not sure. Slippery slope.

I was all for Hunt calling out the sleazeball Carona when he did, but I was surprised at his surprise that there would be retaliation. Carona was his boss, after all.

I will be anxious to hear the testimony from the trial. There are two sides to every story. People get demoted for a lot of things.

chuckdc
10-14-2009, 12:05 PM
Hunt may be the cat's pyjama's, but I would sure be surprised if my employees enjoyed a First Amendment right to publicly criticize me without risk of any recourse from myself.

I don't know what business you run, but the Sheriff's Dept is a public entity, which may require a higher standard of tolerance for 1st Amendment rights. A private business can do things that public agencies can't. Even then, if you do business with the government, you may also have to live up to different rules as well.

bigcalidave
10-14-2009, 1:16 PM
I'm not sure. Slippery slope.

I was all for Hunt calling out the sleazeball Carona when he did, but I was surprised at his surprise that there would be retaliation. Carona was his boss, after all.

The 1st protects your freedom of speech from punishment by the government, not from being fired from your private employer. There is no comparison to your example. And since he was right, why is this even a case! They should have settled instead of defending their prisoner....

dantodd
10-14-2009, 1:27 PM
I'm not sure. Slippery slope.

I was all for Hunt calling out the sleazeball Carona when he did, but I was surprised at his surprise that there would be retaliation. Carona was his boss, after all.

It is not legal for a private company in California to retaliate against an employee who "calls out" the company or their executives for illegal actions.

http://www.ca-employment-lawyers.com/Whistleblower.htm

Mitch
10-14-2009, 1:29 PM
It is not legal for a private company in California to retaliate against an employee who "calls out" the company or their executives for illegal actions.

But that's not what Hunt did. He simply suggested he would be a better sheriff than his boss and ran against him.

dantodd
10-14-2009, 1:50 PM
But that's not what Hunt did. He simply suggested he would be a better sheriff than his boss and ran against him.

I was under the impression that he also accused the sheriff of illegal actions. Have you seen the complaint in the case? If so, can you post a link for me? I can't find one.

Mitch
10-14-2009, 1:58 PM
I was under the impression that he also accused the sheriff of illegal actions. Have you seen the complaint in the case? If so, can you post a link for me? I can't find one.

I am going by memory of the actual election.

If he is invoking the whistleblower statute I would assume his case would be a slam dunk and the county wouldn't even bother defending it.

dantodd
10-14-2009, 1:59 PM
I am going by memory of the actual election.

If he is invoking the whistleblower statute I would assume his case would be a slam dunk and the county wouldn't even bother defending it.

I would assume he has a pretty good case or he wouldn't be pursuing it while running for office in the same county.

I guess we ought to look for source material so we can both put our assumptions aside and find the truth.

That being said, perhaps he had every belief that Carona would retaliate against him but thought that the issue of skilled, thoughtful leadership at the Sheriff's department was too important and he was willing to take the risk.

Mitch
10-14-2009, 2:05 PM
That being said, perhaps he had every belief that Carona would retaliate against him but thought that the issue of skilled, thoughtful leadership at the Sheriff's department was too important and he was willing to take the risk.

That was my assumption when he was running. So I was surprised at his surprise after the election when Carona retaliated . . . as I posted near the beginning of this thread.

Jamsie567
10-14-2009, 2:08 PM
New article just poppled giving facts about Hunts argument

Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Officer who ran against then-Sheriff Carona says his pay suffered
Former Lt. Bill Hunt testifies about incidents he calls retaliation after his losing bid.
By RACHANEE SRISAVASDI
The Orange County Register
Comments 10| Recommended2

LOS ANGELES – Former sheriff's Lt. Bill Hunt testified today that ex-Sheriff Mike Carona initially encouraged him to run for sheriff, but then subjected him to retaliation after Carona decided to run for a third term.

During a December 2003 meeting, Carona told Hunt that he might want to run for lieutenant governor and offered to help him raise money, Hunt said.

"He said he had donors, he called them 'low-lying fruit,' that he could turn my way,'' Hunt said.

But Carona later changed his mind, and announced he was going to run for sheriff in the 2006 race.

Hunt said he decided to run against Carona even though he feared retaliation.

He recounted incidents he characterized as retaliation, such as not being given a merit–based pay increase in fall 2005. He and another lieutenant, Jeff Bardzik, were the only two lieutenants not given the raises, he said. Bardzik supported Hunt over Carona.

Hunt also said that sheriff's officials also ordered him to reveal names of some of his supporters who felt they were victims of retaliation, he said.

Hunt, who lost to Carona and is running for sheriff again next year, is the first witness in the federal jury trial of his lawsuit. Hunt sued Carona and the county after Carona demoted him after the election, which Carona won.

Carona, who is out on bail pending appeal of his federal witness-tampering conviction, also is expected to testify.

Contact the writer: 714-834-3773 or rsrisavasdi@ocregister.com

dantodd
10-14-2009, 2:09 PM
That was my assumption when he was running. So I was surprised at his surprise after the election when Carona retaliated . . . as I posted near the beginning of this thread.

I missed the part about being surprised. I would agree that if one is calling out a corrupt official it should not be surprising that said official would behave in a corrupt manner with regards to you. Sort of like law breakers will break gun laws.

glbtrottr
10-14-2009, 2:21 PM
This is all a great discussion. That said, as others mentioned, the Sheriff's Department is not a public organization; in many ways it is a combination between a government bureaucracy and a military organization.

What this means is that deputies, and in particular EXECUTIVES, MANAGERS, and COMMAND STAFF in a Sheriffs organiztion are bound by a different set of written, agreed upon rules-particularly when you accept a commission within that organization.

For instance, if an employee tells his manager he's a twerp, legal protections may or may not exist.

In the place of a Sheriff's department, there is most certainly a very defined set of rules that Mr. Hunt would be required to follow, particularly being a manager in the city of San Clemente.

Was there an interview or deposition at the time? Who knows-probably.

Did he have counsel at the time to meet with Lieutenant Nightswonger and others? Likely.

Were there conversations about Mr. Hunt being demoted given his violation of Department policy and rules? Likely.

Was Mr. Hunt going to be demoted? Possibly.

Did he retire prior to his demotion? Who knows.

Was that retaliatory behavior on the part of the Sheriff? Perhaps...

All of these things are items that the court will likely settle. Will Mr. Hunt prevail? Possibly-for his sake, I hope so.

1859sharps
10-14-2009, 2:26 PM
I'm not sure. Slippery slope.

I was all for Hunt calling out the sleazeball Carona when he did, but I was surprised at his surprise that there would be retaliation. Carona was his boss, after all.

slippery slope? not sure I understand what your getting out.