Banishing personnel to the south valley office, referred to as "Siberia" by staffers, is Salt Lake County Attorney David Yocom's method of "getting rid of those he doesn't like," attorney Gerry D'Elia alleges.
Appealing the termination of Debra Sauers, recently fired by Yocom, before the Career Service Council Tuesday, D'Elia contended that Yocom is vindictive and rules his office through intimidation. One of Yocom's methods of "destroying the morale" of Sauers and several others who don't wholeheartedly support his administration is to transfer them to the Salt Lake County attorney's office at 2001 S. State.County officials adamantly argued that Sauers was terminated in January because her production was extremely low, and judges were complaining that criminal charges were not being typed soon enough. They firmly denied that Sauers was "targeted" by Yocom and was transferred to punish her.
Sauers and Shauna Clark were moved from the downtown office to the south valley office after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against former Salt Lake County Attorney Ted L. Cannon.
After Cannon left office and Yocom become county attorney, Yocom refused Sauers' requests to return to the downtown office because she supports Clark in her $1.2 million civil suit against the county and Cannon, D'Elia said. Sauers was then fired because her skills weren't being used in her new position at the south valley office. Sauers had been demoralized, said D'Elia.
Sauers and Clark were the victims listed in the forcible sexual abuse indictments against Cannon handed up by a grand jury in 1986. In May 1987, Clark filed the suit against Cannon alleging sexual harassment. The suit is still pending.
Sauers' supervisor, Karen Collette, told the career service members Tuesday that Sauers was a problem in the office.
"She has excellent skills, but she didn't use those skills. I was aware there was a major problem in the workload."
Collette testified that a judge wrote a letter complaining that a man booked into jail on a misdemeanor spent 20 days in jail before a criminal complaint outlining the charges against him was received. The complaint should have been typed within 72 hours. It was Sauers' responsibility to type the complaint, but she procrastinated, Collette said.
Answering D'Elia's allegations that Sauers was targeted by Yocom because of her friendship with Clark, Collette said, "I was not targeting her for termination. I like Debra Sauers."
Collette further denied that Yocom had instructed her to set Sauers up for failure.
D'Elia criticized Collette for failing to warn Sauers verbally that her job performance was inadequate. He also pointed out that Collette kept a ledger of Sauers' job performance, recording Sauers' failings a practice that had not been used on other employees.
He concluded his defense Tuesday crying favoritism and discrimination on the part of Yocom.
The hearing will continue April 6.