Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Venue Change Sought in Suit of Court Clerk; Ex-Employee Suing Clay County Clerk of Court James Jett

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Venue Change Sought in Suit of Court Clerk; Ex-Employee Suing Clay County Clerk of Court James Jett

Article excerpt

Byline: DEBORAH CEARNAL, County Line staff writer

The attorney for a former employee of the clerk of courts has filed a motion seeking a change of venue for the case accusing Clerk of Court James Jett of firing her for revenge.

Orange Park attorney Roger Hall will ask Circuit Judge McCarthy Crenshaw Jr. to move the trial to Leon County, court papers say. Hall has asked for a hearing Monday.

Hall represents Paige Barthlow of Middleburg, who is alleging Jett failed to reappoint her to a deputy clerk post in December 2004 as retaliation for filing complaints against her immediate supervisor and for filing a complaint with the state Elections Commission regarding Jett's re-election campaign.

Barthlow, who worked in the clerk's office since February 1992, claims her former supervisor, James B. Ricks II, was "incompetent and unfit to perform the duties for which he was employed" and created a "hostile work environment."

"Each time the plaintiff [Barthlow] lodged a complaint, she was soon written up for fictitious violation of rules," court papers say.

The reprimands increased after the state's Elections Commission began an investigation of possible violations by Jett. The investigation had been prompted by a complaint by Barthlow.

The "frequency of maliciousness of fictitious allegations against [Barthlow] increased after the Florida Elections Commission began its investigation," the court file says.

While a person with the Elections Commission would not comment on the status of the investigation, the court file says on Feb. 17, 2005, "the [Elections] Commission, in reaching its decision that Mr. Jett had not violated Florida election law, relied heavily on the testimony of those named as co-conspirators in this action."

Barthlow's suit also accuses four current employees and one former employee of helping to exonerate Jett of the election law violations accusations.

The change-of-venue motion cites media coverage as one reason for the move. …

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