New delay in Nevada County Sheriff’s Office lawsuit
August 9, 2018
A civil suit alleging wrongdoing within the Nevada County Sheriff's Office dating back to 2011 is on hold for now.
The lawsuit went to trial earlier this year, with a verdict finding no wrongdoing and tossed out in June due to alleged juror misconduct. Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderson was to set a new trial date last week, but proceedings were suspended after the county's attorney filed an appeal.
The lawsuit alleges that former Sheriff's Office employee Yvonne Evans was retaliated against, charged with embezzlement and eventually fired, after complaining of sexual harassment by then-Undersheriff Richard Kimball. The suit also claims that her husband, Lt. Bill Evans, was forced to retire after being subjected to an internal affairs investigation and a fitness-for-duty evaluation.
Kerry Schaffer, the attorney for Yvonne and Bill Evans, alleged the Sheriff's Office — from Sheriff Keith Royal on down — engaged in a conspiracy to discredit his clients, putting the price tag for their economic losses, pain and suffering at about $4.75 million.
The trial took six weeks and included dozens of witnesses offering up to 90 hours of testimony. The jury found no evidence of retaliation or wrongful termination in a 9-3 verdict.
But Judge Anderson granted a motion for a new trial after finding that one of the jurors failed to disclose friendships with Sheriff's Office employees or their spouses during the jury selection process. She also reportedly made statements during deliberations that demonstrated a bias in favor of Sheriff's Office employees, and she introduced information — character evidence — not presented during the trial.
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During the hearing on the motion, the county's attorney, Carl Fessenden, argued there was no objective evidence of misconduct, or of prejudice. He has filed an appeal of Anderson's ruling with the Third Appellate District in Sacramento.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.