Jefferson Co. wants depositions quashed in whistleblower case

Marilyn Tennissen Mar. 4, 2014, 3:56pm

Jefferson County is trying to stop the oral depositions of county officials in a whistleblower case filed by a former employee.

As previously reported, Sonya Briscoe was a county employee in charge of ordering fuel for Precinct Four of Jefferson County.

In 2007, Briscoe alleges that Precinct Four leaders asked her to falsify fuel records, but she refused to do so. In past years, they had also refused to allow county auditors to see Precinct Four’s accounts and had falsified maintenance workers’ payroll records, the lawsuit alleges.

When Precinct Four Commissioner Bo Alfred reprimanded Briscoe for her failure to order fuel, she wrote a rebuttal, including the leaders’ alleged missteps in her correspondence, according to the suit.

In her complaint, Briscoe alleges the defendants retaliated against her after she utilized her First Amendment right to free speech. She is seeking declaratory relief, plus mandatory injunctive relief that would order the defendants to rehire Briscoe, along with benefits related to her job.

Briscoe's attorney, Larry Watts of Missouri City, filed for continuance in November 2013, arguing that evidence still needs to be reviewed and gathered before the court hears the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

On Feb. 25, Jefferson County submitted its second Motion to Quash Notice of Oral Depositions. The plaintiff is seeking depositions from Alfred, Former First Assistant District Attorney Tom Rugg and Human Resources Director Carey Erickson.

The county noted that there is already a motion to quash the depositions still pending, but the plaintiffs are “attempting to notice oral depositions again.”

Jefferson County, represented by Steven L. Wiggins, “vehemently” objects to the scheduling of all the depositions on the same date, place and time.

It objects to the deposition of Rugg, since he was an attorney of record in the case when it was first filed in federal court.

“Consequently, any information elicited from Mr. Rugg in the course of the deposition would be privileged,” Wiggins wrote.


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