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Panel recommends no action against employees for ethnic remarks

Panel recommends no action against employees for ethnic remarks

By Marjorie Cortez | Posted - Dec. 3, 2010 at 1:47 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County's Equal Employment Opportunities Commission has recommended no action be taken against employees of the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office for three incidents of alleged inappropriate remarks of an ethnic nature by members of the office's domestic violence team in September.

One of the alleged comments was aimed at Sim Gill, chief prosecutor for Salt Lake City, who challenged — and defeated — Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller in November's election.

The review found that one attorney made the comment that "a south valley soccer mom won't vote for a candidate named Simarjit with brown skin."

The conversation was short discussion of less than one minute, according to the commission findings. "One attorney admitted to expressing his belief that a vast majority of voters in southern parts of the Salt Lake Valley had likely been too conservative to look beyond Gill's name and race in deciding whether to vote for him in 2006 and doubted they would behave differently in 2010," the findings state.

Two unrelated allegations of alleged inappropriate remarks of an ethnic nature were not substantiated, according to the commission's findings.

One of the alleged comments focused on a comment regarding 3rd District Judge Deno Himonas. The allegation was that an attorney commented in a meeting that "someone needs to let Judge Himonas know just because he has an accent, it doesn't mean you're intelligent."

The findings stated: "Ten of the witnesses interviewed indicated they did not hear any comments about the race or ethnicity of judges, defense attorneys, interpreters or people in general."

The other allegation referred to the physical appearance of a defense attorney and dress of an courtroom interpreter.

"No witnesses with the exception of one of the complaining parties heard disparaging comments. The other complaining party said no comments of this nature were made," the findings said.

Miller did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. Gill said he would not comment on the findings until he had read them.

In October, the human resources division released the results of a separate investigation into allegations that there was "political pressure" within the DA's Office to re-elect Miller. They found that the information provided to them — which alleged, among other things, that county time and resources were being used to further Miller's campaign — was "not substantive and did not warrant further action."

E-mail:marjorie@desnews.com

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Marjorie Cortez

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