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An ex-commissioner is suing Sonoma County Superior Court in California, alleging he was let go because the court’s executive committee “wanted somebody younger.” Theodore DeJung, 65, was first hired as a full-time commissioner with the court in 1976, according to the complaint he filed last week. Around 1996, he and a retired judge began to split one commissioner’s post, each essentially working half-time. But that arrangement fell apart when the other jurist decided to leave about a year ago, his complaint says. According to DeJung’s suit, then-Presiding Judge Allan Hardcastle told him the court’s executive board didn’t want two people splitting the position again. DeJung then asked to continue full-time, the complaint says, but Hardcastle told him “he could not continue as a court commissioner because the executive board wanted somebody younger, in their 40s.” Hardcastle could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon. DeJung applied for the commissioner’s job anyway, he says, but was rejected in favor of “a substantially younger person in his 40s who had no prior judicial experience.” The court picked Larry Ornell, who’d been a Sonoma County prosecutor for more than a decade, for the $122,000-a-year post, according to the Press Democrat, a Santa Rosa newspaper. Sonoma County’s current presiding judge, Robert Boyd, declined through a spokeswoman to comment Tuesday, saying the court has not yet been served with the complaint. DeJung, who was 64 when he left the court almost a year ago, has since landed at Santa Rosa’s Lanahan & Reilley. He’s of counsel at the wide-ranging civil firm, which covers litigation and business law, among other things. He’s seeking unspecified damages for lost salary and benefits, emotional and mental distress, and attorneys fees. DeJung could not be reached Tuesday afternoon, and a lawyer with the firm that’s representing him, San Francisco’s McGuinn, Hillsman & Palefsky, declined to comment. The former commissioner filed DeJung v. County of Sonoma, 440583, in San Francisco Superior Court, his suit says, because he has worked with nearly the entire bench in Sonoma County.

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