Seaside Police Detective Steve Barnett has filed a complaint in federal district court against the Clatsop County District Attorneys Office for allegedly violating his civil rights and intentionally interfering with his employment.
The civil action by Barnett alleges that Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis and Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Brown refused to work with him because of untruthful claims that he lacked credibility as a witness.
According to Portland court documents, the refusal took place during and after Barnetts candidacy for Clatsop County Sheriff in 2012 when he ran against Sheriff Tom Bergin, whom Marquis endorsed.
Barnetts complaint alleges his rights to free speech and due process were violated and asks for $1 million in damages.
Marquis said he could not go into details about the case, but made a statement regarding the allegations Wednesday.
The Clatsop County District Attorneys Office takes its ethical obligations with the utmost importance, he said. Much as I might like to respond to the allegations in this lawsuit, that would be inappropriate, so it will simply have to be resolved in the court of law, not the court of public opinion.
Marquis, Brown and the district attorneys office are being represented in the case by the Oregon Attorney Generals office.
Filed in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon, the complaint refers to Marquis endorsement of Bergin in a guest column (Bergin best bet for Sheriff, March 6, 2012) printed in The Daily Astorian. The column supports the sheriffs re-election and his continued support along with the sheriff of expanding the Clatsop County Jail. A bond measure to expand the jail was also on the May ballot. It failed, but Bergin was re-elected sheriff.
In April, Barnett wrote a column (Is jail plan worth $14 million? April 24, 2012) in response, questioning the requested amount and need for an expansion. Barnett also questioned whether Marquis previously worked at the jail in Eugene while attending college.
Barnett alleges that after publication of the column, Marquis sent correspondence to Seaside Police Chief Bob Gross stating his objections to the article and stating that he would wait until after the election to act in retaliation, according to court documents.
The complaint alleges that after the correspondence Marquis indicated to the Seaside Police Department that he would not accept cases for prosecution that were investigated by Barnett because he could not vouch for Barnetts credibility.
According to the court document, Brown sent a letter to a Seaside Police detective and subordinate of Barnetts in March stating he would not use Barnett as a witness.
Following the back and forth, the complaint states that Barnett was not given a hearing to refute credibility claims, perjury charges were never filed and his certification as a public safety officer was never challenged. Barnett has been unable to remain part of investigative assignments and has limited access to overtime work and compensation as a result, according to the document.
Barnetts attorney, Sean Riddell, filed the complaint this week seeking a jury trial to determine if Barnetts First and 14th amendment rights were violated.