By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
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SHERIFF IS ACCUSED OF PUNISHING MIKE CARONA ALLY
During Mike Carona's control of OCSD, Christine Murray served as a favored deputy because of her unswerving loyalty to the corrupt regime. When Carona faced sentencing for his post-FBI arrest conviction in 2009, Captain Murray wrote a public letter of support for her old boss' character. Within weeks, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, Carona's comparatively squeaky-clean replacement, transferred Murray from a powerful position to a meaningless department job, and then dismissed her entirely seven months later in an alleged layoff due to budget constraints.
Murray is suing Hutchens, claiming she was illegally punished for expressing her First Amendment sentiments for Carona, who now fittingly resides in a Colorado federal prison. According to the lawsuit, Hutchens met with Murray in August 2008 and "shared her desire that the department move forward under her tenure without embarrassing scandals and maintaining public trust." Those words apparently didn't sink in because six months later, Murray served as Carona's character witness. In depositions, Hutchens claims her decision to dismiss Murray was not based on the captain's actions or character, but rather on eliminating unnecessary positions.
The assertion leaves Murray's Upland-based lawyer, Michael A. McGill, incredulous. In a brief filed this month, McGill accuses the sheriff of committing perjury because, in his view, she obviously covered up her desire to rid the department's management of perceived "fools" and "idiots." According to McGill, Hutchens relies on the 2001 book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap & Others Don't as her guiding management strategy, which requires putting the right people in the right jobs.
"Incredibly, Sheriff Hutchens would now have us believe that she never took into consideration which captains and assistant sheriffs she was laying off," wrote McGill. "The evidence in this case completely contradicts [Hutchens'] assertion that [Murray's] dismissal had nothing to do with her individually."
The dispute is scheduled to go to trial in U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna's Santa Ana courtroom next month.