MARTINEZ — In a surprising reversal of an administrative legislation pass judgement on’s earlier ruling, contributors of the Contra Costa Advantage Board no longer best sided with a prosecutor who accuses District Legal professional Diana Becton of political retaliation, however publicly voiced doubts about Becton’s sworn testimony.
The benefit board — which handles public worker court cases and appeals — voted 4-1 in prefer of rejecting a advice by way of the executive legislation pass judgement on that discovered Becton passed dedicated political retaliation when she moved deputy district lawyer Mary Knox right into a prison filer place. Knox’s attraction alleged that each her placement and prior demotion from a senior place within the workplace got here after she instructed Becton she was once supporting Paul Graves, Becton’s opponent within the 2018 election.
However in all probability extra stunning than the board’s resolution, which is not likely to hold a lot weight, is the truth that a number of benefit board contributors stopped simply wanting accusing Becton of mendacity beneath oath. Maximum particularly, the contributors stated they doubted statements by way of Becton and her leader deputy, Venus Johnson, that Knox was once demoted when they turned into conscious about 15 court cases towards her by way of different DA staff.
“You imply 15 legal professionals within the DA’s workplace are cowards and no longer one in every of them was once prepared to head at the file?” board member James Mellander stated on the March assembly, after noting a loss of documentation surrounding the allegation. “I don’t purchase that. In reality, I’m simply gonna pop out and say it: I feel that’s a pretend tale. I feel that’s pretend information.”
Becton declined to remark at the board’s resolution, thru an workplace spokesman.
On the identical assembly, board member Dennis Reigle famous the stark contrasts between the executive legislation pass judgement on’s findings and the benefit board’s, including he discovered it peculiar the pass judgement on discovered Becton and Johnson’s testimony to be “very credible.”
“My studying of that transcript is sort of the other,” Reigle added. “I discovered the testimony to be astonishingly imprecise, stuffed with, ‘I don’t recollects,’ ‘I don’t recall.’ … It truly referred to as into query — and I’m gonna use a robust phrase — the veracity of the DA and her leader of personnel.”
Reigle later stated he noticed “overwhelming” proof that Knox was once subjected to political retaliation.
Becton and Johnson testified about Knox’s demotion previous this yr, after the benefit board dominated in 2020 to ship the case ahead of an administrative legislation pass judgement on. Knox alleged that she was once unfairly demoted from a senior place within the workplace and got rid of as head of the group unit. Graves was once additionally demoted round the similar time.
All through her testimony, Becton used the word “hand of concern” to explain Knox’s managerial taste and stated she and Johnson have been conscious about 15 grievance towards Knox. Those integrated an incident that was once reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the place Knox despatched an e-mail regarding herself as a “imply mommy” and caution personnel contributors to wash up trash from the grand jury room.
However board contributors puzzled by way of Becton and Johnson didn’t publish documentation to again up the declare.
“If 15 other people got here to me and stated there was once an issue, I might have talked to them, I might have had Ms. Knox in to mention her aspect…There was once not anything and I simply assume that’s implausible,” board member Toni Warren stated.
Now that the board has dominated, it is still observed what — if any — additional motion it may take. Board contributors have been steered by way of their recommend that the board doesn’t have the ability to reinstate Knox as a senior, as a result of a DA is authorized to make a choice his or her upper-echelon personnel. The board additionally can’t award damages, nor can it order the county to pay Knox’s lawyer’s charges. Board contributors will revisit the problem at a listening to in Would possibly.
The lone “no” vote got here from board member Eizo Kobayashi, who stated that he thought to be Knox to be an “exceptional” prosecutor however didn’t know who to imagine when it got here to Knox’s skill as a manager.
“To me it’s no longer a slam dunk…as a result of there are too many components that we truly want to take a look at,” Kobayashi stated, later including, “I believe like we will be able to’t end up one or the opposite.”
Knox was once additionally one in every of 4 deputy district legal professionals in Contra Costa to record a still-active federal lawsuit alleging that Becton appreciated males over ladies for supervisory roles within the workplace.
Becton — the primary girl and Black particular person to function DA — was once appointed in 2017, after the former DA, Mark Peterson, was once charged with grand robbery and perjury for spending tens of 1000’s of bucks from his marketing campaign fund on private bills. Peterson pleaded accountable to prison perjury, as a result of he signed his marketing campaign statements — which didn’t report the unlawful spending — beneath penalty of perjury. In 2018, Becton was once elected to a four-year time period.