Deputy District Attorney Jill Henderson is among several employees of DA Mark Peterson to sue the top prosecutor on claims that include a hostile workplace. Here's a look at the lawsuits filed against or involving the office since Peterson was elected in a contentious 2010 race (Peterson says all the lawsuits against him are without merit, and he's been working to heal the office that was fractured over the election and one prosecutor's arrest on suspicion of raping a colleague in 2008):

  • Deputy DA Jill Henderson filed a federal suit in October against Peterson and Contra Costa County on allegations that she was retaliated against for supporting Peterson's opponent in the 2010 election and for testifying against prosecutor Michael Gressett when he was facing trial on rape charges, before his case was dismissed. Henderson also alleged that she and other women in the office suffer from ongoing gender discrimination that predates Peterson coming into office. Peterson and Henderson settled the lawsuit that month, but the terms have not yet been publicly revealed.


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  • Former Deputy DA Lucinda Simpson filed a political-retaliation lawsuit in federal court 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. Her lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice and then refiled and is pending.

  • Prosecutor and former longtime administrator David Brown sued the county, Peterson and senior deputy DAs 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 dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice as to the political retaliation claim upon deeming that because Brown was a manager in the office, he could be fired for political reasons. Brown refiled his lawsuit as to his other allegations. A judge will consider the defendants' latest motion to dismiss the case on Feb. 6.

  • Deputy DA Michael Gressett filed a federal lawsuit in May against the DA's Office, retired DA Bob Kochly, two retired DA's office managers and various DA's investigators, Martinez police officers, state prosecutors and private attorneys alleging defamation and politically motivated malicious prosecution surrounding his 2008 arrest on suspicion of raping a junior colleague. The criminal case against him was dismissed based on errors the state attorney general's office made during the grand jury proceedings that led to Gressett being indicted, and the state prosecutors chose not to launch a second prosecution. Gressett's case is pending.

  • Eileen Dowell, who is in charge of the crime victim assistance program at the District Attorney's Office, sued Peterson and the office's chief inspector in November over allegations that she was mistreated after she accused them of misappropriating grant money. Since late 2003, Dowell has run the DA's Victim Witnesses Services program, which uses state and federal grant money to help witnesses, victims of serious crimes and their families navigate the criminal justice system.