On Monday, December 11, 2023, Bloomberg Law reported that Former Federal Public Defender Caryn Strickland is set to go to trial against federal judiciary officials, alleging that her sexual harassment complaint against her supervisor was mishandled. Strickland claims that her due process rights were violated and that she was subjected to a hostile work environment. She is seeking lost wages and other damages.

The case has been ongoing since 2020, with Strickland initially filing the lawsuit under a pseudonym. She later revealed her identity when she testified before a congressional committee about her experience. The Justice Department has denied any wrongdoing and argues that the Employment Dispute Resolution process was handled properly.

The trial will be heard by Senior US District Judge William Young, who has declined to grant full summary judgment in the case, saying there were disputed facts at issue. The trial will also have a rare format, with Young presiding over the trial through a video feed from his Boston courtroom while the parties argue in the Asheville courthouse.

Strickland’s legal team has alleged that her supervisor developed romantic feelings for her and repeatedly sought to meet with her outside of the office and that she was retaliated against after she raised her concerns. They also claim that the federal defender at the time, Anthony Martinez, did not appropriately address her concerns and forced her to meet with her supervisor in person.

The Justice Department has argued that evidence in the case shows Strickland’s allegation of harassment is “baseless and untrue” and that her actions were motivated by her seeking a transfer to another office. They are also rebutting Strickland’s claims about a hostile work environment.

The trial is expected to last several days and will be a rare public moment for the judiciary and its internal procedures for handling misconduct claims, which have come under scrutiny in recent years.

Source: Bloomberg Law