Cleveland County DA: No records for fired staffer
Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn says no records are kept in his office when employees are fired.
Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn says he does not keep records when he fires employees despite a written policy requiring it.
Mashburn has refused to say why he recently fired one of his assistants after a public disagreement about whether to release jail mug shots.
He has denied requests for public records relating to the dismissal of Assistant District Attorney David Batton, saying none exist and that he does not keep records in such cases.
Mashburn told other county officials recently that he fired Batton, and other county employees reported Batton had to be physically removed from the county office building. The decision came after Mashburn issued an opinion that contradicted an earlier edict from Batton that the county stop releasing photos of arrestees from the county jail.
Mashburn denied a request from The Oklahoman for any records from the past five years related to employee discipline resulting in suspension, demotion, loss of pay or termination. Such records are public under the state's open records law.
First Assistant District Attorney Mark Gibson said no such records have been generated in the five and a half years Mashburn has been in office. However, Gibson provided a written policy on employee discipline that calls for such records to be kept.
“Any disciplinary action taken against an employee shall be documented in the employee's personnel file, along with the employee's response, if any,” the policy states.
Gibson said the decision not to keep such records is a conscious one on Mashburn's behalf.
“In accordance with Oklahoma law, we are, in fact, following best HR practices by not giving a specific reason for termination, either to the employee him/herself or to anyone else,” Gibson said.
Gibson said Mashburn would not comment further on the issue, and he refused to explain the apparent contradiction between his comments and the written policy.
Joey Senat, an Oklahoma State University journalism professor and open government expert, said Gibson's comments make no sense.
“It contradicts his own policy,” Senat said. “If HR people have told him not to do it, then why does he have a policy saying it should be done? It looks either like he's not following his own policy or he's lying about something.”
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