LAYTON -- A former Davis County deputy attorney, who was fired for misconduct, has filed a $1 million federal lawsuit against his former boss, County Attorney Troy S. Rawlings.
In addition to Rawlings, Tyler James Larsen's suit names other defendants, including Davis County Commissioners John Petroff Jr., Bret Millburn and Louenda Downs, along with Davis County Career Service Council members Cleve Dibble, Marilyn Oberg and Howard Richardson.
Petroff, who is commission chairman, could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and Kristin VanOrman, an attorney for the Davis County Career Service Center, declined to comment on Larsen's lawsuit.
The career service counsel is slated to meet May 24 regarding Larsen's firing.
Rawlings declined to comment on the suit and referred questions to Jesse Trentadue, an attorney who is representing Davis County. Trentadue could not be reached for comment.
The suit was moved Thursday from state court to U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City at the request of the defendants.
Larsen was fired from the Davis County Attorney's Office in September 2010, and the Davis County Career Service Council upheld the termination.
Larsen appealed his firing to 3rd District Court, and in August 2011, Judge Deno Himonas vacated the decision by the Career Service Council. Himonas ruled Larsen had not received due process and remanded the case for further proceedings.
Davis County appealed that ruling to the Utah Court of Appeals, and Rawlings subsequently fired Larsen on April 25.
Larsen alleges in the federal suit that Rawlings has blacklisted him from getting another job and has retaliated against him for making complaints about the Davis County Attorney's Office.
He is seeking $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages as well as reinstatement to his former position as a deputy county attorney.
Rawlings said in a March 20 termination notice that Larsen was fired for misconduct and numerous ethical lapses.
"You have engaged in conduct evidencing a continual pattern of dishonesty," states the notice that Larsen provided to the Standard-Examiner. "In addition to dishonesty, your aggravated misconduct demonstrates insubordination, inefficiency, disloyalty."
The termination notice said a primary reason for Larsen's firing was his deception in connection with an August 2010 trial in 2nd District Court for Joseph Lee Apadaca, who was charged with two counts of first-degree felony aggravated robbery and one count of third-degree felony possession of a handgun by a restricted person.
Judge Michael G. Allphin declared a mistrial after a witness said that, about 10 days earlier, Larsen had shown her a picture of Apadaca but not anyone else in a photo lineup.
"This type of misconduct is aggravated," Rawlings wrote in Larsen's notice of termination. "It goes to the heart of the criminal justice system. Prosecutors who engage in such are a cancer on the system and undermine public confidence."
Todd Wahlquist, deputy senior counsel for the Utah State Bar Association's Office of Professional Conduct, investigated and determined Larsen had violated the association's rules, according to records filed in 2nd District Court.
That case is still open, and Larsen has not been disciplined by the bar association.
Larsen's problems with Rawlings began in August 2009 while handling a routine misdemeanor case, according to his lawsuit.
At a hearing, a defense attorney alleged a private contract probation officer had overcharged his client $8,000, the suit states.
Allphin expressed concern about the overcharges and asked Larsen to investigate the defense attorney's claims, the suit alleges.
However, Wahlquist determined Larsen violated the Utah State Bar Association's rules of professional conduct by making false statements to Allphin about the amount paid to the probation officer, court records indicate.
Larsen provided the Standard-Examiner with a copy of an email the probation provider sent to Rawlings expressing dismay about the investigation.
"I have not been given any copies of receipts that alleged $8,000, paid to the program, and my records do not reflect ... (the accuser's) claims," the email states. "I am not going to stand by and allow my hard work and reputation to be slandered. This is my financial and emotional well being at stake. If necessary I will take whatever legal action available to protect my reputation."
Rawlings sent out an email to his staff inquiring about the probation officer's complaint.
"She is mad as hell at our office and is threatening to sue for defamation," Rawlings wrote in the email that Larsen provided. "Anyone have any insight into this? What is going on?"
Larsen also said in the suit that Rawlings retaliated against him by denying him one of the "premium pay assignments" and giving it to a less-experienced prosecutor.
"Premium pay assignments are extra hourly wages awarded to political supporters," the lawsuit states. "These premium pay assignments are subsidized by federal and, or state grant money."
Larsen ran as an unaffiliated candidate for Roy mayor in 2009 but lost in the primary election.
Rawlings denied that Larsen had been blocked from receiving a premium pay assignment.
"On April 8, 2010, I assigned you the metro premium pay assignment you wanted for some time," Rawlings wrote in Larsen's termination notice.