An embattled Santa Clara County prosecutor is suing his boss and the county, professing his free of charge-speech rights were being violated when he was reassigned and later forced out of the district attorney’s business office pursuing a newspaper piece he wrote questioning prison-justice reform amid climbing violence from Asian Americans.
Daniel Chung alleges in a federal lawsuit submitted Tuesday that District Lawyer Jeff Rosen and his office environment started off retaliating in opposition to Chung after his Feb. 14 opinion submission ran in The Mercury News.
The lawsuit asserts that within two days of the piece’s publication, he was reassigned to a lower-profile function, and was finally put on administrative leave May perhaps 28 when he was escorted out by armed DA investigators, and that he was depicted in an workplace-broad bulletin warning staff members not to permit him on county property.
On Sept. 10, Chung was advised for termination by the business, pending a disciplinary hearing, in accordance to the match.
“The timing, they are not heading to be capable to get about that,” mentioned attorney Jim McManis, who is representing Chung. “Two days right after he printed, they place the hammer down on him.”
The district attorney’s office environment referred a ask for for comment to the county counsel’s office.
“We have not been served with the lawsuit and have no comment at this time,” County Counsel James Williams explained in a assertion to this information corporation.
Chung’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and other than alleging his First Amendment rights were infringed, McManis states he options to argue that tactics that kind the foundation of the allegations are systemic in the business.
In the February view piece that apparently touched off the sequence of gatherings chronicled in the lawsuit, Chung dealt with the ongoing increase in anti-Asian violence, and criticized proposed laws to downgrade classifications of robberies when psychological-overall health challenges factored into producing a target fearful, and if a gun utilised was unloaded or inoperable.
“As an Asian American and Korean American, Daniel felt strongly about how these individuals ended up acquiring victimized in the course of the pandemic and receiving blamed for it. He felt the concentration was far more on rehabilitating criminals than shielding victims,” McManis explained. “There was very little inflammatory about it.”
Ahead of the piece was released, Chung was prosecuting a substantial-profile case involving a Seaside gentleman who brought on a scare at Westfield Valley Fair shopping mall immediately after he allegedly posted social-media messages about a capturing and brought guns to the website. Chung was quoted by this information firm in a tale about the scenario expressing he considered shortcomings in the penal code prevented his business office from filing far more charges.
Both of those the lawsuit and Chung’s past printed remarks contend that on his 1st day back again to function just after the newspaper submission ran, he was notified in a courtroom that he experienced been reassigned from the violent felonies unit to mental-well being court docket. About a day afterwards, he was moved to juvenile courtroom. In the lawsuit, the reassignment was implied to be a demotion.
Due to the fact the publication of his original belief piece, Chung has turn out to be outspoken about his experiences, 1st increasing the declare of retaliation in a San Jose Inside of piece in April, then recounting in a San Jose Spotlight submission in July how he turned down a severance present that he characterised as an endeavor to “push me out of the office environment quietly.”
Chung has also beforehand recounted an inner disciplinary listening to in excess of his formal title — deputy district lawyer — appearing at the end of the February view piece, though he has because clarified that he was composing in a personal capacity.
To McManis, that would make no change. He argues that when Rosen had the correct to discipline his administration employees about any community statements they make, he has no these kinds of latitude over a line-level worker.
“Some male like Chung, who is a deputy DA and speaks out on a issue of community problem, you cannot limit that at all,” McManis explained. “I’m really confident we’re on stable ground there.”