Whistleblower suit dropped against SF district attorney after settlement 

SF EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • SF Examiner File Photo

A whistleblower case filed against District Attorney George Gascon was quietly dismissed April 17 by the plaintiff, a former prosecutor who received a small settlement.

Paul Brennan, a 45-year-old former assistant district attorney who was fired in 2013, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against The City and Gascon. The civil suit alleged that actions were taken by District Attorney’s Office staff to “professionally intimidate, embarrass, and humiliate [Brennan] in retaliation” for reporting that his direct supervisor had lied on his time card.

The two parties signed a no-fault settlement agreement earlier this year in which Brennan agreed to not apply for another job in the District Attorney’s Office and to not take any further legal action against San Francisco. In turn, The City paid Brennan’s lawyer fees of $2,000 and Brennan himself received $2,500. The City also agreed to seal his personnel file.

Gascon would not comment on the lawsuit’s dismissal.

The case centered around a complaint Brennan made to Gascon that his supervisor in the Juvenile Division, Julius DeGuia, was committing time card fraud. Brennan, who contends that his firing was retaliatory, worked in the office from 2007 to 2013.

In December 2012, Brennan complained to Gascon in person. Brennan told Gascon that DeGuia was logging hours on days when he did not work. Gascon allegedly guaranteed that Brennan would not be retaliated against for blowing the whistle on DeGuia.

Over the next several months, Brennan noticed no change in DeGuia’s behavior, according to the complaint. Then in March 2013, DeGuia was transferred to the Criminal Unit.

Shortly after the transfer, Brennan was conducting an in-house training that Assistant District Attorney David Merin, the head of the Criminal Division, observed. During the presentation, Brennan made several jokes that elicited laughter.

Then in June 2013, Brennan was called into the office of Sharon Woo, chief assistant district attorney, and told he would be put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into the jokes he made months earlier. He was escorted to his office by an armed investigator so he could collect his belongings and told not to return to work until further notice.

After being interviewed by District Attorney’s Office investigators about the joke, which concerned an unnamed defense attorney who spoke about his cases in public, Brennan was fired July 1, 2013.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Bio:
Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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