MARTINEZ -- The Contra Costa District Attorney's Office is paying $135,000 to settle a lawsuit by one of several prosecutors who sued on allegations that they were punished for supporting District Attorney Mark Peterson's opponent in the 2010 election.
Deputy district attorney Jill Henderson, whose federal lawsuit also alleged gender discrimination since before Peterson took office, will receive $50,000, and the remaining $85,000 will go to Henderson's attorneys, according to settlement papers finalized and released by county officials last week.
The agreement forbids Henderson, Peterson and Contra Costa County from commenting on the settlement.
The settlement was reached on the day in October that a county merit board hearing on Henderson's political-retaliation claim was scheduled to begin and air thousands of subpoenaed work emails between Peterson and his administrative team. The merit board claim, which was proceeding separately from the lawsuit, was thereby dismissed along with the lawsuit that the 14-year prosecutor filed in September.
Two other prosecutors still have pending federal lawsuits over the 2010 district attorney race in which Peterson defeated local attorney and retired Judge Dan O'Malley despite O'Malley carrying most of the support from inside the District Attorney's Office.
Veteran prosecutor and former officer administrator David Brown sued Peterson and senior deputy district attorneys Karen Zelis Holder and Douglass MacMaster in federal court in April on allegations that he was demoted after supporting O'Malley and was harassed and racially discriminated against. A judge in October ruled that because Brown was a manager, he could be fired for political reasons. Brown is now just suing on the discrimination and harassment claims.
Former deputy district attorney Lucinda Simpson filed her political-retaliation lawsuit in October against Peterson, the county and county Human Resources Director Ted Cwiek on allegations that she was denied the opportunity to be rehired after she voluntarily left the office because she campaigned for O'Malley.
Peterson has repeatedly said that there is no basis for the lawsuit and that he has promoted many O'Malley supporters since he took office in January 2011. Henderson, an O'Malley campaigner, was among the prosecutors who were most recently promoted, and her promotion is not a term in the written settlement.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.