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California District Attorney Sued by Former Colleague

On February 29, 2012, former Contra Costa County prosecutor Paul Sequeira filed a lawsuit in superior court seeking damages from Senior Deputy District Attorney Harold W. Jewett, whom he accused of assault and battery. Two years earlier, the two men (both in their fifties) had argued; the argument escalated until Jewett punched Sequeira, who sought treatment at a hospital and received stitches. [See: PLN, May 2010, p.50].

In an interview conducted the same day that Sequeira’s lawsuit was filed, Jewett denied any wrongdoing, saying, “It was and continues to be my position that I was defending myself physically from an assault ... by Mr. Sequeira.” Jewett, who was named “Prosecutor of the Year” by the California District Attorneys Association in 2008, added, “It may well be that a jury will have to decide who was defending himself against whom.” Jewett was suspended for 30 days without pay following the altercation with Sequeira; he was later promoted.

Whatever differences the two prosecutors may have had, they apparently reached a boiling point as the 2010 election for a new Contra Costa County District Attorney approached. Sequeira and Jewett backed rival candidates, with Jewett supporting the candidacy of the eventual victor, Mark Peterson, and Sequeira favoring former deputy DA Dan O’Malley.

The incident involving Sequeria and Jewett reportedly stemmed from a letter that Jewett had sent to the Contra Costa Times that disparaged electoral fundraising practices at the prosecutor’s office. Following Peterson’s election, Sequeira was demoted; he then left the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office and found employment as a prosecutor in Mendocino County.

Sequeira’s lawsuit against Jewett remains pending, with a case management conference scheduled for April 29, 2013 as this issue of PLN goes to press. See: Sequeira v. Jewett, Contra Costa County Superior Court (CA), Case No. MSC12-00517.


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Related legal case

Sequeira v. Jewett