Fired Santa Rosa police captain's lawsuit headed back to federal court

  • 10/15/2009:B1: Jaime Mitchel

    8/6/2008:A1: Jamie Mitchel

    6/16/2008: B1: Jamie Mitchel

    6/1/2008: B2: Jamie Mitchel

    7/4/2005: D2: Jaime Mitchel

Santa Rosa city attorneys are attempting to move the revived lawsuit of a fired police captain back to federal court, where they won a partial dismissal last year.

Former Santa Rosa Police Department second-in-command Jamie Mitchel filed an amended lawsuit in Sonoma County Superior Court in September, alleging he was wrongfully terminated and that his privacy rights were violated.

City Attorney Caroline Fowler said Monday the city has filed papers to move the case to federal court, arguing that Mitchel's claims relate to federal statutes.

Generally, there are no hearings in such a move, Fowler said, unless Mitchel contends the federal court doesn't have jurisdiction.

The case may be assigned to the same judge who heard the case last year, Susan Illston. Illston dismissed the case on several grounds, ruling that further legal remedies had to be exhausted before Mitchel could bring his suit back.

He filed the amended complaint after his civil service arbitration hearing concluded this year. The three-member panel, in a split decision, upheld Mitchel's termination.

City Manager Jeff Kolin fired Mitchel, 54, in May 2008 in the wake of several complaints from police department employees related to gender discrimination and retaliation from ex-Chief Ed Flint and Mitchel.

In a 19-page ruling, the panel ruled his firing was appropriate based on his explanations of his discussions with others about the complaints, not because of his behavior toward the complainants.

Flint was forced out and Mitchel fired. The city paid the six complainants, some of whom no longer work for the city, a total of $120,000.

Fowler said the city also will ask the federal court to dismiss the case and keep under seal parts of Mitchel's lawsuit filed in September.

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