FARMINGTON -- A former deputy Davis County attorney, who has a pending $1 million federal lawsuit against named Davis County officials, has been reinstated to his position by an independent Career Service Council.
Based on some legal maneuvering, however, it is unclear whether Deputy Davis County Attorney Tyler J. Larsen, currently on paid administrative leave, will ever work for the county attorney's office again as the county appeals the CSC decision.
Larsen was reinstated to his position by the Davis County CSC on July 12, with back pay and compensation for lost benefits to be paid to him back to April 25, 2013, according to an email Larsen provided to the Standard-Examiner.
Larsen referred to the monetary award he received from the county as "significant," referencing www.utahsright.com, which lists his total gross compensation for his position at $95,186 annually.
Attempts to reach Larsen for additional comment were unsuccessful.
But Larsen, reinstated by the CSC based on a procedural issue as it relates to him not receiving due process, may again be terminated by the county based on a claim of misconduct against Larsen that occurred in 2010.
The CSC's July 12 opinion, in addition to returning Larsen to un-deputized administrative leave status, is also an invitation to recommence termination of Larsen's employment, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings told the Standard Examiner.
As the CSC noted, "We have seen enough information in the record which leads us to believe that there are likely sufficient grounds for termination if the proper procedure is employed," Rawlings said.
The Utah State Bar Association has also independently determined there is enough information related to the misconduct of Larsen to find sufficient grounds for filing a complaint against him in 3rd District Court. Part of that complaint against Larsen involves his misconduct in the State of Utah v. Joseph Apadaca (case), which led to his initial termination of employment with the county in 2010, Rawlings said.
And while county officials proceed with attempts to remove Larsen from his position, Larsen awaits, having filed a lawsuit against the county, seeking $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages as well as reinstatement to his former position as a deputy county attorney.
That case, which lists as defendants Troy Rawlings, Davis County Commissioners John Petroff Jr., Bret Millburn and Louenda Downs, as well as members of the CSC, is scheduled to be heard in U.S. Federal Court in January 2015.
Because of pending litigation, all media inquiries to the county are being referred to attorney Jesse Trentadue, who is serving as legal counsel for county officials, Petroff said.
Trentadue, who is with the law firm of Suitter Axland in Salt Lake City, said the Larsen case involves different litigation and claims as a result of Larsen knowing the system when it comes to terminating a public employee.
"(The termination) is just being delayed. But it will play out," Trentadue said.
The court filings by Larsen are an attempt to disrupt the termination procedure, but before Larsen's complaints against the county are heard, sanctions of "unprofessional conduct" the Utah State Bar Association's Office has filed against Larsen will be heard, possibly as early as this fall, Trentadue said.
The outcome of the sanctions may have an impact on Larsen's complaint against the county should Larsen lose attorney privileges, Trentadue said.
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.
In addition to the original complaint, the State Bar Association also recently requested sanctions against Larsen for his actions during their litigation.
"They (the association) take it very seriously," Trentadue said.
Larsen's litigation postures, threats and publicity-seeking tactics will not deter the county from taking appropriate action in response to his conduct, Rawlings said.
Larsen was fired from the county in September 2010, and the CSC upheld the termination. Larsen then appealed his firing to 3rd District Court, and in August 2011, Judge Deno Himonas vacated the decision by the CSC, ruling Larsen had not received due process, and remanded the case for further proceedings.
The county appealed that ruling to the Utah Court of Appeals, and Rawlings subsequently fired Larsen on
Larsen alleges in his federal suit against the county that Rawlings has blacklisted him from getting another job and has retaliated against him for making complaints about the Davis County Attorney's Office.
Rawlings said in a March 20 termination notice that Larsen was fired for misconduct and numerous ethical lapses.
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."