Andrew Mounts, a Parol Agent who specialized in high risk sex offenders and GPS tracking, filed a civil lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections after he was passed over for a promotion in a specialized sex offenders unit in Fresno, California. Mounts suspected it was reverse-discrimination in that the chosen candidate, who was an African American, had virtually no high risk sex offender experience, no GPS tracking experience and had never even monitored a high risk sex offender. Mounts also knew that the Deputy Regional Manager, Judith Harris, who was also African American had a history of promoting African Americans and bypassing the merit standards of the Civil Code. In fact, Harris at one point told a Hispanic Supervisor that “not everyone can look like you.”
During the course of the lawsuit, WCT Law and Mounts discovered that the ultimate decision-maker, Richard Burrows, admitted that he knew the race of the chosen candidate and that “race was a factor” that he used in choosing the African American candidate.
Mounts’ case proceeded to a jury trial where the jury unanimously found 12-0 that “race” was the motivating factor in choosing the new candidate. Pretty straightforward huh? Not so. During trial, CDCR’s submitted unsubstantiated, prejudicial evidence (despite Mount’s counsel, Monrae English’s objection) geared to having the jury believe that Mounts would not have been selected for the position because of this “generated,” “unsubstantiated” evidence.
The Fifth District Court of Appeal weighed in this week and reversed and remanded Mounts’ case back for a new jury trial. The Justices found that CDCR’s “evidence” was never known to Burrows in the first place and thus, this evidence could not have influenced him. The Justices further stated that the burden was on CDCR, not Mounts, to prove this and that the Jury should have been instructed accordingly.
Mounts’ new jury trial should be set sometime early in 2014.