A prosecutor who attempted to unseat an incumbent judge filed a $5 million claim against the county Monday, saying her boss, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, retaliated against her for running in the election.
Deputy District Attorney Karen Schatzle, who predicted in 2016 that she was committing “career suicide” by running against Superior Court Judge Scott Steiner, says in her claim that after the June 2016 election she was denied promotions and sent to a court far from her Villa Park home, and that her career at the DA’s office is effectively stalled.
The District Attorney’s office could not be reached for comment.
Steiner was re-elected despite being censured by the Commission for Judicial Performance in 2014 for sexual encounters with two of his former law students in his chambers. Schatzle, 52, ran against Steiner on a platform to restore dignity to the office.
Schatzle’s claim says she was warned by a high-level official in the district attorney’s office not to run against Steiner, who was endorsed by Rackauckas. The claim, considered a precursor to a lawsuit, said the office has an unwritten policy of not attempting to unseat incumbent judges.
“Up until the time she announced her candidacy in a judicial position, Ms. Schatzle was viewed by her employer as a tough-minded law-and-order prosecutor with judgement,” the claim said. “She was popular and considered by her employer as a ‘lock’ for a management position and promotion in the office.”
“Karen Schatzle has suffered and continues to suffer adverse employment actions which affect her future employment,” her attorney, Joel Baruch, wrote in the claim.
Schatzle recently returned to work following an authorized six-month disability leave.
Baruch also represents two district attorney’s investigators who have filed whistle-blowing claims accusing Rackauckas of interfering with cases involving friends and political cronies.
The claims from investigators Tom Conklin and Abe Santos say, among other things, that office brass interceded on behalf of a former police chief suspected of attempting to cover up an alleged DUI by Fullerton’s former city manager.
Schatzle was hired as a prosecutor in 1995 and was promoted to team leader last year, just before announcing her candidacy. She said in an interview last year that her supervisors were frustrated to learn that she was running for judge, and that she was soon assigned to work that wasn’t commensurate with her…