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District attorney accused of abusive conduct but he denies it, says ‘it’s political’

Madera County District Attorney David Linn is accused of abusive conduct toward his staff by the Madera County Board of Supervisors.
Madera County District Attorney David Linn is accused of abusive conduct toward his staff by the Madera County Board of Supervisors. Madera County Board of Supervisors

The Madera County Board of Supervisors has accused District Attorney David Linn of “abusive conduct” and scheduled a special meeting Monday to consider publicly censuring him and calling on him to resign.

But Linn denies the allegations and said “the developer-controlled board” is retaliating against him because two members are under investigation by his office for potential wrongdoing.

The Board of Supervisors issued a statement Tuesday that it had “recently been made aware of allegations of serious workplace misconduct” including “allegations of racist comments; sexist, lewd and offensive comments; and generally abusive, threatening and profane comments.”

But Linn said that turnover at the office has been at a record low since he became district attorney in early 2015. A majority of prosecutors have endorsed him for re-election next year, he said.

“It’s very political,” he said of the accusations.

In a statement, he said that “The Board of Supervisors is aware of the fact that I am attempting to clean up Madera County, and I am preparing to prosecute corruption against two of the members of the board.”

Supervisors want him gone because Supervisors Brett Frazier and David Rogers are under investigation by his office for allegedly getting favors from developers, he said.

The Board of Supervisors is aware of the fact that I am attempting to clean up Madera County, and I am preparing to prosecute corruption against two of the members of the board.

David Linn, Madera County District Attorney

Linn said he learned only Tuesday at a closed session of the Board of Supervisors meeting that supervisors were preparing to hold a special meeting about him. County officials told him for a month that he was not a subject of investigation, he said.

“It hit me totally out of the blue,” he said.

The special meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Monday at the Board of Supervisors chambers. A proposed resolution declares that Linn “tarnished the reputation” of the District Attorney’s Office. The proposed resolution states “  the Board of Supervisors calls on him to acknowledge his past behavior and resign immediately.”

Linn said the board deliberately chose Monday for the special meeting to make life difficult for him because supervisors knew he’d be out of state for several days over Thanksgiving. He will hold a news conference after the meeting, he said.

“I’ve had a billion people call and say they’ll support me,” he said.

A law firm hired by Madera County to investigate the claims found them to be true, according to document in the board agenda packet. Dated Nov. 20, the document is a summary of a larger report.

It says John Baker, a senior deputy district attorney, complained about inappropriate workplace conduct. The allegations that Linn “made repeated sexist or sexually explicit comments to and about employees and female crime victims” had been “sustained” as a result of the investigation, the summary states.

Linn also made “repeated racist or racially insensitive comments in the workplace,” and “engaged in abusive or threatening conduct in the workplace,” the report summary states.

The summary says the larger report should not be made public because Madera County’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies don’t call for such reports to be released, and the report is a confidential attorney-client communication. The summary was signed by attorney Kimberly A. Horiuchi of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, a large employment and labor relations law firm with an office in Fresno.

(T)he Board of Supervisors calls on him to acknowledge his past behavior and resign immediately.

Madera County Board of Supervisors proposed resolution

Linn said only one person, a disgruntled employee, complained about him. “The one accuser is an individual who has done the same thing in two other counties,” he said.

Linn said he’s seeking re-election next year in the June 5 primary. In the past, election campaigns for Madera County District Attorney have been the focus of intense political battles.

After longtime District Attorney Ernest LiCalsi retired, prosecutor Michael Keitz was elected to replace him in 2010. Keitz lost to Linn in a bitter election in 2014. An apparent factor in that election was a report prepared by a lawyer for the Board of Supervisors about how Keitz interacted with his staff. Keitz fought to keep the report from being made public.

Now Sally Moreno, a former Madera County prosecutor who left six months after Linn arrived and is now a deputy district attorney in Fresno County, announced in March she would try to defeat her former boss. In a Bee story in March, both traded barbs.

Moreno plans to attend the special meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

“I’m glad we have several months before the election to sort out the claims,” she said. “If these claims are true, they’re serious.”

When asked if she was a victim of abusive conduct by Linn when she employed there, Moreno said, “In the time I was there, I realized I was not going to be able to work with David. These allegations are not surprising to me.”

Lewis Griswold: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold

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