A former top prosecutor in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is taking legal action in a bid to overturn his demotion stemming from allegations that he sexually harassed a female co-worker for more than 2 1/2 years, saying he was not given a fair chance to give his side of the story.
Deputy District Attorney Edward Miller of West Covina is representing himself in the Los Angeles Superior Court petition filed Monday against the Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission.
Miller helped get seven city officials convicted in the 2010 Bell corruption scandal, but he was suspended for allegedly sexually harassing fellow prosecutor Karen Nishita in 2018, given a reduction in rank and transferred to a branch office.
“Beginning with his interview by investigators, (Miller) has denied committing sexual harassment on the grounds that his actions were pursuant to a flirtation initiated by the female employee and did not constitute misconduct,” the petition states. “He has also maintained that the employee was untruthful and exaggerated her story over time. He assumed that his employer would act in good faith to investigate his defense.”
Miller was demoted from a grade 4 prosecutor to the rank of grade 3 in January 2019, and he asked for a hearing before the commission to challenge the reduction in rank, his petition states. A hearing officer in May 2020 found eight of the nine allegations brought against Miller to be true and the discipline imposed on Miller to be appropriate, and the commission upheld those findings on March 26, according to the petition.
Miller is asking a judge to order the commission to set aside its decision adopting the recommendations and findings of the hearing officer and instead reinstate him as a grade 4 prosecutor with full back pay and benefits.
According to the petitioner, six of the eight allegations should have been dismissed by the hearing officer because the notice of discipline was served more than three years after the alleged causes for discipline.
In addition, the hearing officer did not allow Miller the right to cross-examine witnesses and his conclusion that the discipline was appropriate was based on an erroneous reading of the class specification bulletin for Deputy District Attorney grade 4, according to the petition. Miller alleges the county violated his due process rights by failing to conduct a reasonable investigation into evidence that he maintained supported his defense.
The Board of Supervisors in September 2019 approved a $300,000 civil settlement with Nishita.
A trial-setting conference is Miller’s case is scheduled for Sept. 21.