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After the Goldsmith, his politics on trial

Former asst. city attorney sues ex-boss on basis of illegal conduct

Jan Goldsmith
Jan Goldsmith

The politicization of San Diego's city attorney's office under Jan Goldsmith's lead has landed the city in court again.

On December 3, Goldsmith's former assistant city attorney, Marlea Dell'Anno, sued the city and Goldsmith, alleging then–city attorney Goldsmith demoted her and eventually terminated her for refusing to prosecute what she claims were politically motivated lawsuits against Goldsmith's opponents.

Hired in 2009, Dell'Anno was later promoted to chief deputy city attorney in charge of the city's Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit. During her time heading the unit, Dell'Anno, says the lawsuit, excelled. She reorganized the department, increased the number of domestic-violence and elder-abuse cases all while retaining a 94 percent conviction rate.

In 2012, she was promoted to assistant city attorney, where she oversaw the city attorney's criminal division.

Shortly after her promotion, Dell'Anno began to notice, claims the lawsuit, Goldsmith's political motivations.

"Almost immediately in her role as second in command, however, Dell'Anno recognized that Goldsmith's primary interest was his personal, political advancement, which she quickly realized was on a collision course with her own professional and ethical obligations as a criminal prosecutor," reads the lawsuit.

Cory Briggs

Examples of Goldsmith allowing his politics to take the driver's seat include a 2013 city-council hearing when Dell'Anno allegedly failed to deliver Goldsmith's talking points while answering council's questions. After the meeting, Dell'Anno says Goldsmith lashed out at her in front of the city attorney's management team and threatened to demote her. He retaliated by forbidding her from attending council meetings or addressing councilmembers directly.

Annother example involved Goldsmith's public feud with attorney Cory Briggs. Goldsmith allegedly directed Dell'Anno to press criminal charges against Briggs. As reported by the Reader, the city attorney's office threatened prosecuting Briggs criminally in 2015 for allegedly using electronic signatures on court declarations and complaints.

Joe Cordileone

In a 2015 email obtained by the Reader, deputy city attorney Joe Cordileone informed Briggs of the office's quest to investigate potential forgery of court documents: "It was recently brought to our attention that many declarations you filed with the court do not contain your signature," reads the May 29, 2015, letter. "These declarations, of course, contain the following language: 'I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.’

"Our office spot checked 64 court declarations retrieved from various court filings involving the city and found that 30 do not appear to be your signature. Our spot check covered several years but was limited to declarations. However there are many other documents in the court's file purportedly signed by you that also appear to be signed by someone other than yourself."

Dell'Anno, however, refused to press charges against Briggs due to the lack of evidence that a crime had been committed.

Likewise, according to the lawsuit, Dell'Anno declined to press criminal charges against an individual despite Goldsmith's desire to appease the police department.

The final straw, says the lawsuit, occurred in October 2015 when Goldsmith directed Dell'Anno to remove a negative evaluation given to a deputy city attorney in the office. Dell'Anno again refused because doing so would be a violation of state law.

Goldsmith responded by allegedly demoting Dell'Anno.

"Your adverse action today is the most professionally and personally devastating event of my twenty year career," replied Dell'Anno to Goldsmith upon learning of her transfer. "I cannot express how unbelievable your actions today are in light of the work I do and the measurable success I have brought to your Criminal Division. Your decision is clearly the result of my continued and documented refusal to engage in an on-going pattern of illegal, unethical and fraudulent conduct by you and other members of your administration."

One month later, Goldsmith targeted Dell'Anno. The firing centered around the time that Dell'Anno was in charge of the domestic violence division. Goldsmith allegedly blamed her for allowing an attorney under her supervision to sit on 94 domestic violence cases, thus violating the statute of limitations requirement.

The accusations, says the lawsuit, were just a ploy to terminate her. In November 2015, Dell'Anno was terminated. She is now suing the former city attorney for retaliation and for violating the labor code.

"Like Dell'Anno, Goldsmith was ethically prohibited from initiating criminal charges unless he reasonably believed his office could prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. However, at all material times, Goldsmith was also a politician, and Goldsmith prioritized his political ambitions and interests over his ethical obligations.

Dell'Anno's attorney, Dan Gilleon, ranks Goldsmith's political approach to that of former mayor Bob Filner's.

"Jan Goldsmith is cut from the same cloth as his arch nemesis, Bob Filner. They're from a generation of powerful men who believe fear and intimidation is the mark of a leader and they think their power entitles them to abuse their subordinates. They're becoming a thing of the past because of courageous women like my client.

The lawsuit will make its way through superior court.

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Jan Goldsmith
Jan Goldsmith

The politicization of San Diego's city attorney's office under Jan Goldsmith's lead has landed the city in court again.

On December 3, Goldsmith's former assistant city attorney, Marlea Dell'Anno, sued the city and Goldsmith, alleging then–city attorney Goldsmith demoted her and eventually terminated her for refusing to prosecute what she claims were politically motivated lawsuits against Goldsmith's opponents.

Hired in 2009, Dell'Anno was later promoted to chief deputy city attorney in charge of the city's Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit. During her time heading the unit, Dell'Anno, says the lawsuit, excelled. She reorganized the department, increased the number of domestic-violence and elder-abuse cases all while retaining a 94 percent conviction rate.

In 2012, she was promoted to assistant city attorney, where she oversaw the city attorney's criminal division.

Shortly after her promotion, Dell'Anno began to notice, claims the lawsuit, Goldsmith's political motivations.

"Almost immediately in her role as second in command, however, Dell'Anno recognized that Goldsmith's primary interest was his personal, political advancement, which she quickly realized was on a collision course with her own professional and ethical obligations as a criminal prosecutor," reads the lawsuit.

Cory Briggs

Examples of Goldsmith allowing his politics to take the driver's seat include a 2013 city-council hearing when Dell'Anno allegedly failed to deliver Goldsmith's talking points while answering council's questions. After the meeting, Dell'Anno says Goldsmith lashed out at her in front of the city attorney's management team and threatened to demote her. He retaliated by forbidding her from attending council meetings or addressing councilmembers directly.

Annother example involved Goldsmith's public feud with attorney Cory Briggs. Goldsmith allegedly directed Dell'Anno to press criminal charges against Briggs. As reported by the Reader, the city attorney's office threatened prosecuting Briggs criminally in 2015 for allegedly using electronic signatures on court declarations and complaints.

Joe Cordileone

In a 2015 email obtained by the Reader, deputy city attorney Joe Cordileone informed Briggs of the office's quest to investigate potential forgery of court documents: "It was recently brought to our attention that many declarations you filed with the court do not contain your signature," reads the May 29, 2015, letter. "These declarations, of course, contain the following language: 'I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.’

"Our office spot checked 64 court declarations retrieved from various court filings involving the city and found that 30 do not appear to be your signature. Our spot check covered several years but was limited to declarations. However there are many other documents in the court's file purportedly signed by you that also appear to be signed by someone other than yourself."

Dell'Anno, however, refused to press charges against Briggs due to the lack of evidence that a crime had been committed.

Likewise, according to the lawsuit, Dell'Anno declined to press criminal charges against an individual despite Goldsmith's desire to appease the police department.

The final straw, says the lawsuit, occurred in October 2015 when Goldsmith directed Dell'Anno to remove a negative evaluation given to a deputy city attorney in the office. Dell'Anno again refused because doing so would be a violation of state law.

Goldsmith responded by allegedly demoting Dell'Anno.

"Your adverse action today is the most professionally and personally devastating event of my twenty year career," replied Dell'Anno to Goldsmith upon learning of her transfer. "I cannot express how unbelievable your actions today are in light of the work I do and the measurable success I have brought to your Criminal Division. Your decision is clearly the result of my continued and documented refusal to engage in an on-going pattern of illegal, unethical and fraudulent conduct by you and other members of your administration."

One month later, Goldsmith targeted Dell'Anno. The firing centered around the time that Dell'Anno was in charge of the domestic violence division. Goldsmith allegedly blamed her for allowing an attorney under her supervision to sit on 94 domestic violence cases, thus violating the statute of limitations requirement.

The accusations, says the lawsuit, were just a ploy to terminate her. In November 2015, Dell'Anno was terminated. She is now suing the former city attorney for retaliation and for violating the labor code.

"Like Dell'Anno, Goldsmith was ethically prohibited from initiating criminal charges unless he reasonably believed his office could prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. However, at all material times, Goldsmith was also a politician, and Goldsmith prioritized his political ambitions and interests over his ethical obligations.

Dell'Anno's attorney, Dan Gilleon, ranks Goldsmith's political approach to that of former mayor Bob Filner's.

"Jan Goldsmith is cut from the same cloth as his arch nemesis, Bob Filner. They're from a generation of powerful men who believe fear and intimidation is the mark of a leader and they think their power entitles them to abuse their subordinates. They're becoming a thing of the past because of courageous women like my client.

The lawsuit will make its way through superior court.

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Comments
3

Amazingly good news!

Finally what we all knew to be true but couldn't prove, someone with knowledge and wherewithal is.

Ms. Dell'Anno is competent and principled, everything Goldsmith is not, and she is going to kick his pompous pallid ass. And what's more, once she prevails, Mr. Briggs will have all the evidence necessary to pursue a lawsuit of his own.

If Mara Elliott had any sense, she'd scrub the city attorney's office of Cordileone, Braun, and all the other crony scum that has built up there.

Now, over to iNewsfarce to see how they spin this as a repudiation of Briggs or as the real politically motivated attack in this story--if they mention it at all.

Jan. 5, 2017

And a special THANK YOU to the Reader and Dorian Hargrove for once again letting the rest of us know about the bizarre decisions made by the people we elect.

Jan. 6, 2017

Jan Goldsmith has always been a politician more than an attorney. He is consistently in the news playing his part in the old political elite that has dominated San Diego government. He's just another political hack with big dreams and ruthless tactics aimed at making himself a power broker at other people's expense.

Jan. 7, 2017

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