One legal fracas looming in the New Year is the legal action expected to be filed by Chris Gray, former chief of staff of Supervisor Scott Haggerty.
Haggerty fired Gray in June and this month the board of supervisors denied the claim filed by Gray for wrongful discharge. That sets the stage for filing a law suit.
Gray had served as chief of staff for Haggerty since Haggerty won the supervisor’s seat when Ed Campbell retired in 1996. He was re-elected this year without opposition so will start his fifth term in January. Gray had been Campbell’s chief of staff.
The unusual situation for office staff for supervisors is that the staff members are county employees and thus entitled to most of the same protections afforded to civil service employees. Of course, they serve at the pleasure of their boss, the supervisor, but things can get mucky. Thus, the legal challenge by Gray.
It played out in a very interesting way in Contra Costa County when former supervisor Gayle Bishop was convicted of nine felony counts using her office staff in an unsuccessful election campaign as well as lying to the county grand jury. Two of the perjury charges were dismissed upon appeal and she wound up serving a brief jail term.
Her staff members, who likely would have lost their jobs when the new supervisor took over, instead, appealed to the county human resources department and wound up getting placed in other jobs within the county system.
Gray has worked for many years in the county system. Whether he would want to continue within the county is a question only for him, but it will be interesting to see if this case is quietly settled or actually goes to trial. It was unusual for me, over the course of many years, to meet with the supervisor without Gray also being present.
Gray also was a successful political operator, running a number of campaigns including Haggerty’s first election campaign and subsequent re-elections. He also advised on judge campaigns.
How this will play out is anyone’s guess—one item I would be willing to bet on—both sides will want terms of any settlement sealed.