With the dispute settled to his satisfaction, Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco today dropped his lawsuit against the county over its initial refusal to “unfreeze” a dozen positions on his staff.
Lawyers for the D.A. submitted a motion asking Superior Court Judge Paul Bryant to dismiss the case, which he did, canceling all future hearings, including one that had been scheduled for tomorrow morning.
“We asked that the suit be dismissed after verifying that all the employee transactions had been processed,” Assistant District Attorney Bill Mitchell told City News Service.
Pacheco filed suit on Dec. 10 against the Board of Supervisors, Executive Officer Bill Luna and Human Resources Director Barbara Olivier over their refusal to approve 10 deputy district attorney positions and the voluntary demotions of two staffers.
Mitchell said the junior prosecutors had received tentative job offers over a year ago and were guaranteed staff positions if they passed the state Bar and demonstrated outstanding workmanship as clerks.
The demotions were requested by D.A. Bureau of Investigation Chief Vern Horst and Chief Deputy District Attorney Rick Cookson, both of whom wanted to be moved out of at-will positions and into classified ones to protect their jobs after Pacheco left office Jan. 3, according to Mitchell.
Horst has since withdrawn his request, and two of the law clerks seeking permanent employment found jobs elsewhere.
The county initially held up validating the staffing changes, saying all dozen positions were “frozen” under constraints imposed under the county’s 2010-11 fiscal year deficit control plan. But Pacheco argued the positions were built into his $99 million budget and sued over the county’s interference with his “constitutional functions” as an elected official.
On Dec. 22, the board agreed to validate the eight attorneys still seeking employment and approve the demotion of Cookson.
The lawsuit led to a series of controversial court filings related to the D.A.’s budget, including an affidavit signed by District Attorney’s Office financial analyst Eric Woolery, who said he had been told by a former supervisor to redraft the D.A.’s first-quarter budget update in October several times until a $4 million deficit was erased and replaced with a surplus.
On Monday, Pacheco released a statement saying Woolery was pressured and ultimately threatened with termination if he didn’t make the “exceedingly
Mitchell filed an affidavit saying Woolery informed him that he initially refused to sign the declaration, but caved to intense pressure brought by Executive Officer Bill Luna, Assistant CEO Jay Orr and even District Attorney-elect Paul Zellerbach, who takes office Monday.
Pacheco equated the Woolery affair to a “smear campaign” motivated by “vindictive behavior” on the part of Luna and Orr. The latter left the D.A.’s office in 2007 after Pacheco said he flagged him for alleged ethical violations related to billing the state for grant money.
Executive Office spokesman Ray Smith told City News Service that Pacheco’s version of events was “a complete fabrication.”