MARTINEZ — A former Contra Costa prosecutor’s racial-harassment lawsuit against his bosses has been dismissed by a federal judge.
David Brown, who worked in the District Attorney’s Office from 1986 to 2011, sued Contra Costa County, District Attorney Mark Peterson, deputy district attorney Doug MacMaster and Karen Zelis-Holder, a former Contra Costa prosecutor.
Brown, 56, an African-American currently in private practice in Fairfield, declined to comment on the dismissal. Originally filed in April 2012, the suit sought $6 million in damages and alleged racial harassment and political retaliation against Brown, who supported Dan O’Malley in the contentious 2010 district attorney’s race won by Peterson. Shortly after the election, Peterson demoted all five senior deputy district attorneys, Brown included, replacing them with a team that included MacMaster and Zelis-Holder, who also is African-American.
A federal judge dismissed Brown’s first suit that included the political-retaliation claim in November 2012, ruling he was a “policymaker” who, under federal case law, can be fired for political reasons. Brown refiled the complaint, which was amended multiple times before Monday’s dismissal.
U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria, in his ruling, wrote that based on the allegations, “a reasonable jury could not conclude that Brown operated in a work environment in which racial hostility was so severe and pervasive as to effectively alter the conditions of his employment.”
In a statement Tuesday, Peterson said, “I am gratified that a neutral federal judge found Mr. Brown’s allegations to be without merit. I wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Brown’s suit was one of four naming Peterson as a defendant in the wake of the 2010 election. Two resulted in $50,000 settlements for the plaintiffs, and two were dismissed.
Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him at Twitter.com/garyscribe.