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Job protections cover UA assistant coach

State job rules govern effort to fire Richardson
Posted at 7:14 PM, Sep 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-28 22:14:44-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - University of Arizona says it's taking steps to fire Emanuel Richardson, the assistant basketball coach now facing Federal bribery charges. But as a state employee Richardson cannot be fired right away even if he's charged with a serious crime.

Emanuel Richardson worked a prestigious, well-paid coaching job but that's still a state government job.
Attorney Natasha Wrae works with criminal and employment law. She says a state employee can try to hold onto his job with rights a worker just does not have at a private company.

"Very big difference and it's fairly extensive.  Whether or not it's fair is a whole different ball of wax but at least it gives the employee the opportunity to try to convince the employer to not fire them, suspend them or whatever it is that they're seeking to take the employee towards."
Federal prosecutors say they have recordings in which Richardson talks about bribes.  Wrae says UA will have to conduct its own investigation.  But an investigation about whether to fire someone requires a much lower standard of proof than a criminal case.

"The level of proof for a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt which is the higher standard of proof.  For an employee to be disciplined or fired it's by a preponderance of the evidence and I typically describe that as if you can picture the scales of justice and if she's being balanced, one little grain of sand tilting her in the other direction and you've got by a preponderance of the evidence."
Wrae says some people facing criminal charges will still fight to hold onto their jobs while others will let the job go to devote all their time to avoiding prison.

She says when prosecutors say they have recordings of Richardson he's in real trouble.

"The Federal Government runs a very tight investigation.  When they're using wiretaps and they're using undercover investigators and individuals as well as confidential informants, it sounds like a pretty tough case to beat."
But she says as a defense attorney she'd rather let a jury hear a client's own words than a law enforcement statement because in full context they could help clear instead of convict.

"Unlike an officer or an agent who is interpreting a statement and wants you to understand or hear the part they want you to understand or hear you've got the benefit of the entire statement and you can say, 'No, back here if you put it in context this is what he meant.’"