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Carona sued for demoting competitor

October 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona was back in court Tuesday. But this time he and the County of Orange are co-defendants in a lawsuit filed by a former employee.The trial got under way at the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles with jury selection.

Former sheriff's lieutenant Bill Hunt is suing Carona and the county for damages, alleging he was demoted after running against Carona and losing in the run for sheriff in 2006.

Hunt acknowledged criticizing Carona's administration following the election, something he says is protected under the First Amendment. The county said the criticism had the potential to disrupt the sheriff's department and gave the county valid reason to demote Hunt. He eventually resigned.

On top of damages, Hunt is also seeking to be restored to his position as lieutenant and police chief in San Clemente.

The trial comes in the wake of Carona's conviction in January of witness tampering. He remains free pending an appeal.

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