Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Former Prosecutor Suing Nueces County DA's Office

CORPUS CHRISTI -- A man who worked for several years as a local prosecutor says he was hired to uphold the law, not to break it.

But his attorneys say the Nueces County District Attorney's office left him no choice. When he followed the rules, he lost his job.

Eric Hillman prosecuted drunk driving cases, but, when he uncovered a witness who had the potential to help someone he was prosecuting, he claims his bosses told him not to share that information with the other side.

He did and the lawsuit he filed Monday claims it cost him his job.
"It is unlawful to fire or terminate an employee because they refuse to commit a criminal act and that's exactly what happened here," said Hillman's attorney, Amie Pratt with the Gale Law Group.
It's what's called the Sabine Pilot exception and comes from the case of Sabine Pilot Service, Inc. v. Hauck.
It means your employer cannot ask you to do something illegal and in the case of Eric Hillman, that's exactly what his attorneys say happened.
He had been assigned a case against a man named David Sims, who was charged with Intoxication Assault and Leaving the Scene of an Accident.
But when he started researching it, another story emerged.
"Found out that there was a witness who was not listed on the police reports who indicated that the defendant probably was not drunk or did not appear to be drunk to them and therefore hadn't really committed the crime," said Hillman's other attorney, Chris Gale.
He told his supervisor about it and claims his supervisor told him he did not need to inform the other side, which is required in the discovery process of a case in court.
Hillman did not want to wrongly pursue the case, so he called the State Bar of Texas for their opinion.
"They affirmed that he in fact needed to turn over that witness to the defense, so he went back to the supervisors and told them he was going to disclose the witness and he was fired the morning of the trial," Pratt said.