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Former US atty and fired lawyer were ‘unrepentant hard heads,’ judge says; no bias found

Posted Dec 13, 2013 8:11 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A former U.S. attorney who is now a federal judge did not discriminate or retaliate against a lawyer who worked in the prosecutor’s office, a judge and jury have found.

Jurors found on Thursday that former U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose and her top assistant did not discriminate against Martha Fagg because of her anxiety and depression, the Sioux City Journal reports. Before the jury verdict, Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf found that the defendants did not retaliate for a “concerns memo” in which Fagg claimed the demotion of her supervisor raised the possibility of age discrimination.

Rose is now a federal judge in Des Moines.

Fagg, a former assistant U.S. Attorney in the civil division of the U.S. Attorney’s office, was fired in June 2011. Rose testified that Fagg was fired because of poor performance and disrespectful conduct.

In his order (PDF) dismissing the retaliation claim, Kopf wrote that the disputants are “fine people and very good lawyers” but “there is absolutely no question that Fagg was openly disrespectful of Rose” and her assistant, who were “by-the-book managers.”

“At times, and in my opinion, their efforts to bring oversight and discipline to the Civil Division, and Fagg in particular, were overly zealous and harsh,” Kopf wrote. The dispute among the three "was not about age or about Fagg’s ‘concerns memo’ or EEO complaints. On the contrary, this was a clash of cultures. It involved three good people, each of whom were very competent lawyers. Each of these people testified. I was able to observe them first-hand. They were all credible. However, Rose and Fagg are unrepentant ‘hard heads.’ ”

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