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Suit by Ex-Spokeswoman for D.A. Is Thrown Out

O.C. official said she was fired after challenging orders. She also alleged defamation.

June 08, 2005|Christine Hanley | Times Staff Writer

A judge on Tuesday threw out a wrongful-termination lawsuit filed against Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas by a former press aide.

Michelle Emard, who was fired as a district attorney's spokeswoman in May 2003 after eight months on the job, alleged she was dismissed after challenging orders to blacklist certain news reporters and to concentrate on improving the prosecutor's political image at the expense of the public's right to know.

Emard also alleged the district attorney's office violated the state's Whistleblower Protection Act and defamed her.

On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Charles Margines dismissed the wrongful-termination and whistle-blower claims. The defamation claim was waived by Emard after the two sides agreed to pay their own attorney fees.

Susan Kang Schroeder, who heads the media office for Rackauckas and was called as a witness by Emard, said the suit was frivolous and the judge's decision was fair.

"This was essentially a temper tantrum at taxpayers' expense," Schroeder said.

Emard and her attorney, Steven R. Pingel could not be reached for comment.

The jury trial began May 16, and after testimony from both sides, the district attorney's office asked the judge to intervene and dismiss the case.

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