In October of last year, Inyo District Attorney Art Maillet fired his assistant Will Richmond. Now, Richmond has gone to court for wrongful termination. He names Inyo County, DA Maillet, and the Inyo Supervisors. Richmond wants to be re-instated and given back pay and benefits with interest.
In his brief to the court, Richmond said he had not sought the job but that DA Maillet had recruited him with urgency. Richmond said Maillet told him work was piling up because of the termination of the previous assistant DA and as a result of Maillet’s preparation for a murder case. Richmond’s brief said he took the job and gave up his candidacy in another job and his position as elected DA of Alpine County.
Richmond worked as a temporary assistant until he was officially hired January 1, 2011. His brief says he handled all day to day operational responsibilities in the DA’s office. He says he came to the position with over 40 years experience as a lawyer. 17 of those years as an elected DA and 12 years as a Deputy DA.
Richmond says the entire time with Inyo County, he never received a required performance review. His brief says DA Maillet extended Richmond’s probation period because he, Maillet, was too busy with a murder trial to review Richmond’s performance. A memo from Maillet said Richmond shouldn’t be concerned about this. Richmond said that he understood the extension had nothing to do with his performance. Maillet extended Richmond’s probation on May 31, 2011. The murder trial had ended April 29.
Maillet states in a declaration that he had spoken to Richmond about his performance regarding letting him know when he needed help and meeting work completion dates. Richmond maintains Maillet never gave him a performance review, fired him without giving him a reason, and told him he had no right to appeal. Richmond alleges that he had attained permanent status as an employee and was illegally terminated.
Richmond’s brief said the County claims DA Maillet had placed a performance evaluation on Richmond’s chair and that the document is now “lost”. Richmond says he was terminated on the “whim and caprice of the District Attorney, without notice or the benefit of due process” under law. Richmond alleges Inyo County violated accepted law and its own personnel rules.
Inyo County is represented by attorney John Kirby and County Counsel Randy Keller. They argue that the merit system does not apply to positions in the DA’s office. They also question the jurisdiction of the court in this particular process and say that Richmond did not exhaust his administrative remedies.
Their brief also says that the County believes Richmond remained a probationary employee and so was rightfully terminated without cause and without right of appeal.