JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - State Attorney Angela Corey's office is once again taking heat, accused of withholding important evidence in a lawsuit against the office.
It's the latest in an ongoing dispute that came after a clerk was fired. She claims discrimination and civil rights violations, but Corey's office says the termination was needed because the woman broke the rules of office conduct.
The suit was taken up in federal court Friday morning.
Private attorneys representing Corey and the state attorney's office admitted that mistakes were made in gathering evidence in the lawsuit against the office, but said they were unintentional.
Lawyers for Julie Lyncker, a former employee in the Nassau County division, accuse Corey and her team of withholding evidence, especially emails, that would be important to the case.
Channel 4 legal analyst Ed Birk said the judge will decide if sanctions will be handed down for the evidence mishap. It all depends on whether or not there was intent and negligence.
"It sounds believable," Birk said. "The question is whether the court will say, 'Well, a reasonable attorney could have done more,' or, 'Anybody could have made that mistake.'"
Lyncker (pictured, right) was fired in 2009. She said she was discriminated against by the top Nassau County prosecutor, Wesley White, sexually harassed, and denied rights for taking a leave of absence. According to documents from Lyncker's attorneys, she complained about problems within the office.
"SAO administration met and discussed Plaintiff's behavior rather than her allegations," the documents read. "The accused harasser, (former prosecutor Wesley) White, was never interviewed "
Corey's attorneys said Lyncker was fired for legitimate reasons, accusing the woman of being promiscuous and harassing at work. In a defense document, it says, "(Lyncker) Plaintiff refuses to accept the fact that her conduct and behavior in the Nassau Office was so prevalent and so inappropriate that her co-workers did not need to be prompted or specifically asked if she engaged in unacceptable behavior."
What really happened inside the state attorney's office will be decided on by the judge and jury when the case goes to trial. But after being postponed, a new date hasn't been set yet.
Birk said the first matter of business for the judge is to decide what went wrong when the state attorney's office didn't hand over everything that was asked of it.
"If that happens by, say, the negligence of one of the parties' attorneys, then somebody's going to have to be held responsible for that," Birk said.
Lyncker's lawyers said they had no comment about what happened Friday or the lawsuit, besides what was said in court. The lawyer for the state attorney's office said he believes the lawsuit is without merit.
Corey had no comment because the case is ongoing, but her office issued this statement:
"The State Attorney's Office continues to vigorously pursue justice on behalf of our victims. As for the pending federal litigation, all comments should come from our attorney, Len Hackett."
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