SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – In an effort to end discrimination and whistleblower claims against one of its two sitting judges, a rural California state court agreed Friday to dish out $100,000 to settle a curious federal lawsuit brought by its head clerk.
The settlement comes nearly four months after plaintiff and court executive clerk Andi Barone filed a federal employment complaint against sitting Lassen County Superior Court Judge Tony Mallery.
Barone accused Mallery, one of only two judges at the courthouse in sparsely populated northeastern California, of badgering her and other female employees and of disregarding long-standing Lassen Superior Court calendaring and file-handling protocols.
The top clerk has worked at the court for nearly 20 years and said while she submitted 30 complaints regarding Mallery’s behavior to state officials and Judicial Council staff, the judge has never been reprimanded. Barone said Mallery has lied to her since the day he was sworn in and that his conduct included “yelling, ranting and raising his fists” and hugging a defendant in open court.
“To plaintiff’s knowledge, neither defendant superior court nor any of the other judicial branch entities have taken any effective remedial action, and defendant Mallery’s misconduct continues,” Barone said in her complaint.
The defendants’ attorneys issued Barone the settlement offer Dec. 23, which must be approved by U.S. District Judge Stanley Bastian. The Lassen County Superior Court coworkers were due in a Sacramento federal courtroom on Jan. 20 for Mallery’s dismissal motion.
According to the settlement, taxpayers will be on the hook for $100,001 along with reasonable attorney and expert fees. Neither Mallery nor Lassen County Superior Court admits to liability or wrongdoing per the settlement.
Barone initially sued the California Judicial Council as well, but dismissed it from the lawsuit in November.
Mallery was represented by the California Attorney General’s Office, while Lassen County employed Carolee Kilduff of Angelo, Kilday & Kilduff in Sacramento. Kilduff did not respond immediately to a voicemail regarding the settlement Friday.
Barone’s attorney, Mary-Alice Coleman, said she wasn’t surprised by the defendants’ offer and that the sides attended two mediation hearings over the last three months.
“Our goal certainly was to try and work this problem out,” Coleman said of the settlement. “Andi is happy to have the matter resolved and is looking forward to continuing her career.”
Barone is one of just 24 employees at the court in Susanville, 215 miles northeast of Sacramento in an area referred to as the high desert. The presiding judge is Michele Verderosa, who was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010.
Mallery attended the private Cal Northern School of Law in nearby Chico and was admitted to the bar in 2000. He is a longtime Lassen County resident and ran a private practice before running for an open seat on the bench in 2012.