Lawsuit filed against DA Pamela Price by former spokeswoman

The Berkeley Scanner broke the news of the allegations in March after obtaining a leaked confidential letter outlining the claims.

Lawsuit filed against DA Pamela Price by former spokeswoman
DA Pamela Price at a press conference in January 2024. Emilie Raguso/The Berkeley Scanner

A former spokeswoman for Alameda County DA Pamela Price has filed a lawsuit against her, alleging retaliation, discrimination and wrongful termination, among other claims.

The Berkeley Scanner broke the news of the allegations in March after obtaining a leaked confidential letter outlining the claims.

Patti Lee, the former Price spokeswoman, says she was terminated after raising "what she believed were illegal practices within the Alameda County District Attorney’s office."

Lee said she raised concerns late last year about how the office was handling California Public Records Act requests about why Pamela Price had barred Scanner founder Emilie Raguso from a press conference in violation of the First Amendment.

During that period, Lee said she "discovered that the DA’s office was hiding, deleting, and/or altering records rather than producing them."

She said she was "unceremoniously fired" days later.

"I had to speak out,” Patti Lee in a prepared statement Wednesday after her lawsuit was officially filed. "I have been a serious and dedicated journalist for more than two decades. I believe in transparency and the public’s right to know. This case is about more than just one individual; it’s about maintaining the integrity and transparency of our public institutions."

DA Pamela Price hit with discrimination, retaliation claims
Patti Lee says Price often made anti-Asian remarks and that the DA’s office illegally withheld records about The Scanner’s exclusion from a press event.

On Wednesday, the Alameda County district attorney's office said only that it "cannot comment on litigation on personnel matters."

Lee's attorney, Nicholas Roxborough of Roxborough, Pomerance, Nye & Adreani, said the firm initially attempted to pursue a settlement, but it hadn't panned out.

After brief discussions, the firm said in a prepared statement, "it became clear that something is very amiss in Alameda County and Ms. Price’s office."

Roxborough described the lawsuit "as one of many legal and political proceedings calling into question Ms. Price’s capacity to serve as the best representative for the great City of Oakland and Alameda County."

Price is currently fighting a recall effort slated to hit the ballot in November.

“Pamela Price, the top cop at the DA's office is attempting to silence her own people for refusing to participate in a cover-up. Growing up and going to school in the Bay Area, I find it shocking that a public official such as Ms. Price would engage in the kind of conduct that we believe to have occurred," Roxborough said. "That Ms. Price often spends more time worrying about her appearance and her image than fighting serious and complex crimes in the Bay Area is astounding."

Read more about Pamela Price on The Scanner.

In addition to Lee's claims about First Amendment issues in the office, she also raised concerns about anti-Asian discrimination in the DA's office.

Lee said that DA Pamela Price made derogatory comments about Asian Americans, and said that "the media and the Asians" were her enemies.

"I have never been subjected to such humiliating and bullying behavior in a workplace," Lee said in Wednesday's statement. "It is unacceptable in any professional environment but when the perpetrator is a public official who claims to be a civil rights advocate, it is unconscionable."

Read the full lawsuit filed this week.

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