A former Davis County prosecutor accused of misconduct was properly terminated, the Utah Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
Tyler James Larsen was fired after alleged misconduct during a 2010 aggravated robbery trial. According to a Utah State Bar disciplinary complaint, Larsen was terminated for showing the robbery victims a photo of the defendant, but not showing them any other photos as part of a proper photo line-up. This was not disclosed to the defendant’s attorney, who asked for — and was granted — a mistrial when the victim testified that Larsen had shown her the photo.
After he was fired, Larsen unsuccessfully appealed the termination to the Career Service Council, arguing that in addition to the robbery trial issue, he was fired for past disciplinary issues and was not given adequate notice of all the allegations.
He then appealed to district court, and in August 2011, 3rd District Judge Deno Himonas ruled in Larsen’s favor, saying there was "no question that the county took ... additional allegations into account in determining to terminate Larsen’s employment." Larsen was then reinstatedby the Davis County Attorney’s Office, but was put on paid administrative leave.
The county attorney’s office then appealed to the Utah Court of Appeals, which reversed Himonas’ decision on Thursday, ruling that Larsen did receive adequate notice of misconduct that occured during the robbery trial — and that the photo line-up incident alone was reason enough for a termination.
"Larsen was terminated for knowingly using tainted testimony in an attempt to obtain a robbery conviction and then not fully disclosing the facts once his gambit came to light," the decision reads. "This misconduct warrants termination of a prosecutor."
Despite the high court’s ruling, legal issues between Larsen and the Davis County Attorney’s Office are not over.
Last May, Larsen filed a lawsuit against Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings, demanding damages of at least $ 1 million.
In the lawsuit — which has been transferred from 2nd District Court to federal court, and which also names several other county officials as defendants — Larsen claims he worked in a hostile environment that involved cover-ups, that he was fired without due process and that Rawlings committed an act of "workplace violence" against him.
Neither Larsen or Rawlings have commented on what the alleged violence was.
Attorneys representing Rawlings and the county attorney’s office in the federal case denied the allegations in a June response to the federal lawsuit. They have asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed.
No trial date has been set in the case.
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