MADERA COUNTY – Madera County District Attorney David Linn, who lost the June primary when he garnered just 22.29 percent of the vote, has filed suit against the County of Madera, the Board of Supervisors, the County’s Chief Administrative Officer and two contracted County attorneys.
Linn is accusing them of trying to stop his investigation into government corruption by conspiring to defame and slander him through censure and thereby cause him to lose the election.
Linn is demanding a jury trial claiming violation of his due process rights; violation of privacy; intentional interference with his ability to earn a living; conspiracy to violate his civil rights and interfere with his economic interests; intentional infliction of emotional distress; defamation, slander and libel; and intentional age discrimination.
In a complaint filed on Monday, Aug. 20, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Linn names Supervisors Max Rodriguez, Tom Wheeler, Brett Frazier, David Rogers and Robert Poythress, along with CAO Eric Fleming and County Counsels Regina Garza and Kimberely Horiuchi – both in their positions with the County and as individuals – accusing them of “stampeding over county rules and regulations, federal law, state law, and equal protection” in their efforts to “publically [sic] denounce plaintiff in the worst light without due process.”
On Nov. 27, 2017, the Board of Supervisors held a special meeting at which they voted unanimously to censure Linn for creating a hostile workplace environment and using sexually and racially offensive language.
The Board had demanded his resignation in the wake of a complaint filed by a County employee which prompted an independent investigation. Months of interviews with other employees led to a finding that Linn consistently used vulgar and offensive language, and engaged in “conduct unbecoming of an elected District Attorney that has tarnished the reputation of the Madera County District Attorney’s Office.”
(For the full report, click here and then click on Liebert Cassidy Whitmore Report)
Linn states in the complaint that on Nov. 21, 2017, the Board held a closed session where they presented him with a letter of resignation which he refused to sign.
Shortly thereafter, he says, County Counsel issued a press release stating that he was “bigoted and prejudiced against minorities and women, the plaintiff had abused his staff and plaintiff would be publicity [sic] censured on November 27, 2017 at an open Madera County Board of Supervisors meeting.”
The complaint alleges that Linn filed a demand for a hearing, but that County Counsel denied the request and refused to allow him to cross-examine his accusers.
Linn asserts that since he was an elected official and the Board could not fire him, they instead conspired to publicly shame him by censure in an attempt to cause him to lose the election.
The Board’s actions are responsible for his loss in the June 2018 primary, Linn alleges, and offers in support of that argument the “statistical evidence that 90% or more incumbents in political office win elections.”
Linn, who was elected in 2014, claims a loss of income in excess of $165,000 per year for the years of 2019 – 2023 due to his failure to win reelection, “plus medical expenses for physical and psychological treatment, and numerous other damages.”
The complaint alleges that the “defendants’ machinations” resulted in the loss of monetary donations to Linn’s reelection campaign, and that caused him to be deprived of “life – career, and property – future income, benefits, and retirement income.”
He would have been eligible for retirement benefits only after serving five years as district attorney.
Linn also wants to be compensated for the $40,000 in attorney’s fees which he says the County refused to pay to defend him against a lawsuit by a County employee.
Linn accuses the named defendants of “intentionally conspiring” to remove him from office by smearing his name and “defaming” him, thereby stopping his investigation into illegal activity by the Board of Supervisors.
He also claims physical and psychological damage and alleges that he “has suffered and is suffering extreme emotional distress, loss of appetite, sleep loss, stress, and other psychological damages and issues protected by HIPPA [sic] at this juncture.”
The complaint against Linn that prompted the investigation into his conduct was filed by then Deputy District Attorney John Baker. Linn calls Baker’s statements and allegations “hearsay and as such, the individual Madera County Board of Supervisors members’ reliance on them exceeded their legal authority.”
Linn states that he was assured by CAO Eric Fleming that “John Baker’s complaints were very common and would be resolved for a token amount. Defendants initiated a self-serving investigation too [sic] publically [sic] defame Plaintiff and announced the findings of that unchallenged investigation as if it were the truth.”
Linn also alleges that the Board violated his right to privacy.
“Their actions made public what should have been private and in which due process rights should have been sacrosanct. They intentionally conspired to sabotage Plaintiff’s reputation and career in public service in Madera County, even as a dog catcher.”
Finally, the complaint accuses the defendants of “intentional age discrimination,” and alleges that the Board, in conjunction with Madera County Human Resources and CAO Fleming, set about to remove him from his position “based in part upon his age.” Linn was 69 years old at the time of the censure. (Note: Max Rodriguez is 78, Tom Wheeler is 76, and Rob Poythress is 62 years old).
Earlier this year, Linn filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) concerning his allegations, but it was dismissed on May 25, with the EEOC determining that it was “unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violation of the statutes.”
No monetary amount was delineated on the court documents filed today, but Linn is claiming “all damages incurred as a result of all of Defendants actions;” all past, present and future attorney’s fees and expenses associated with bringing this action; punitive damages and accrued interest.
On Mar. 13, David and wife Betty Linn filed separate Claims for Damages against Madera County totaling $15 million in damages, based on largely the same allegations. Those claims were denied.
No date has yet been set for Linn’s appearance in court.
We expect the County to respond to this lawsuit some time on Tuesday.