County settles suit with former deputy DA

-- Staff ReportNovember 29, 2012 

A lawsuit against Madera County and District Attorney Michael R. Keitz has been settled for nearly $400,000.

The lawsuit was filed by a former deputy district attorney George Fawcett against the County of Madera and the district attorney's office, alleging he had been the subject of retaliation for supporting the political campaign of a rival for the district attorney's position in the 2010 election.

The decision, announced Monday, provided $331,500 to Fawcett and $63,500 to his attorneys.

According to a prepared statement, the Madera County Board of Supervisors and their legal representatives made a business decision to end expensive, distracting and time-consuming litigation, so that the district attorney could focus prosecution resources on essential law enforcement priorities.

"The expense of ongoing litigation is a primary concern in these difficult budgetary times for the County," said Keitz.

All of the parties acknowledged that the settlement did not represent an admission of liability for any of the former employee's claims. The county and Keitz denied, and continue to deny the claims.

The terms of the settlement agreement required that the employee leave his employment with the County of Madera, and agree not to seek re-employment with the county in the future.

"Personnel matters are confidential. Accordingly, I am prohibited from giving any further information about the issue" said Keitz. "Unfortunately, these types of lawsuits are all too common. Very similar lawsuits have also been filed against newly elected district attorneys in at least two other California counties. Many law enforcement agencies, from police to sheriff to District Attorney, have been the target of lawsuits in the California legal climate."

Last December, the county agreed to pay $350,000 to settle a suit brought by two women who also accused Keitz of political retribution. Former deputy district attorney Karen Mitchell and legal secretary Toni Lindsey settled their case against the county after accusing Keitz of retaliation, discrimination and harassment in connection with Keitz's promotion to district attorney and his bid for election.

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