Attorney seeks new trial in Nevada County Sheriff’s Office discrimination suit
The attorney for two former employees of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, undaunted by a jury verdict that found no evidence of wrongdoing, has filed a motion for a new trial.
In April, after a weeks-long trial in Nevada County Superior Court, the jury found no evidence former Sheriff’s Office employee Yvonne Evans was retaliated against, charged with embezzlement and eventually fired, after complaining of sexual harassment by then-Undersheriff Richard Kimball. They also found no evidence her husband, Lt. Bill Evans, was forced to retire after being subjected to an internal affairs investigation and a fitness-for-duty evaluation.
The couple’s attorney, Kerry Schaffer, had painted the Sheriff’s Office — from Sheriff Keith Royal on down — as engaging in a conspiracy to discredit his clients. Schaffer put the price tag for their economic losses, pain and suffering at about $4.75 million.
But county attorney Carl Fessenden argued it might be true Yvonne Evans complained about harassment and was fired, but there was no connection between the two events. Bill Evans, he said, retired of his own free will.
The jury found that Yvonne Evans engaged in a protected activity — complaining of sexual harassment — and that she suffered an adverse action, her termination. But they did not believe her termination was retaliatory. In Bill Evans’ case, the jury found he was not forced to retire.
At the time, Schaffer expressed disappointment and noted the verdict was not unanimous. On May 9, Schaffer filed a motion to vacate the verdict and to request a new trial. He was not specific as to the grounds for his motions, citing a number of possibilities including jury misconduct, new or insufficient evidence, an irregularity on the proceedings, or an error in law.
A hearing has been scheduled for June 15.
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