The 63 infractions for which Martha Fagg was cited represented a small percentage of the problems she presented, former U.S. attorney Stephanie Rose testified Wednesday at a federal trial examining whether Rose created a hostile work environment while serving as the top prosecutor in the Cedar Rapids-based Northern District of Iowa.
Rose testified those instances for which Fagg received a series of reprimands, suspensions and, ultimately, her dismissal as an assistant U.S. attorney were just the ones picked out by employment attorneys advising the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“They are 63 among hundreds, hundreds, hundreds,” Rose testified Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Sioux City.
Fagg has alleged that Rose, 40, discriminated against her because of her mental and physical conditions. She also claims Rose discriminated against older employees. Fagg, 56, was fired in January 2011.
During more than six hours of testimony, Rose, who has since been appointed a U.S. District Judge, described several instances in which Fagg refused to cooperate with her supervisor, Teresa Baumann. Rose appointed Baumann, 35, to replace 60-year-old civil division chief Larry Kudej.
Rose said Kudej was demoted because she had learned that for years, he had failed to follow policies to properly supervise his attorneys, including Fagg.
Rose said that when she took office in November 2009, she heard of concerns from five other office employees about Fagg’s unexplained absences that stretched back nearly 10 years. Rose said she studied leave, travel, computer login and office door login records to try to explain Fagg’s absences.
Rose said that as her investigation progressed, she realized Fagg’s attendance just one of an “enormous array” of problems. Rose said Fagg lied to her and Baumann, mishandled cases, violated Department of Justice policies, complained about Rose and Baumann to others and became increasingly belligerent and angry when asked to send Baumann information.
“She was just so problematic,” Rose said.
Rose said Fagg was fired after a meeting in which she shouted and yelled at Baumann, an exchange that was witnessed by another office worker, who, Rose said, feared for her and Baumann’s safety. Rose said they believed Fagg may have been suicidal.
Rose said she did not know of any mental or physical disability Fagg may have had.
“She never told me what her alleged disability was. What I knew is she couldn’t drive based on a one-page doctor’s note and she had some depression, anxiety issues,” Rose said. “To this day, I don’t know what her disability was.”
Fagg testified Tuesday, but her testimony ended for the day as her attorney was preparing to ask questions about her health. Rather than continuing with Fagg’s testimony Wednesday, attorneys called Rose to testify in order to accommodate her schedule and travel from Des Moines.
Earlier Wednesday, Senior U.S. District Judge Donald E. O’Brien testified via video from Florida that Fagg had represented 177 cases in front of him in Sioux City.
“She’s a good lawyer. She was always well-prepared. We had no problems with her representation,” O’Brien said.