Lehmberg sued by former Travis County prosecutor

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A former prosecutor who was fired on the grounds of making racially insensitive remarks is now suing Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg saying he was unfairly removed from his job.

Steven Brand was an assistant district attorney in Travis County since 2006. Lehmberg fired him for statements he made during jury selection in an aggravated robbery trial. She said Brand commented about a potential juror being a member of the local NAACP chapter and the possible bias the juror could hold.

“Travis County lost an outstanding, ethical prosecutor,” Brand’s attorney Tom Nesbitt said. He disputes claims made by the DA and says Lehmberg had other motivations.

Following that trial, Nesbitt says Lehmberg pressured Brand to mislead an Austin Police Department internal affairs unit into covering up something a detective said about the case, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

“When he was asked to mislead Austin Police, he refused to,” Nesbitt said, “and then reported that Rosemary Lehmberg had tried to influence his testimony.

“Within a couple of months of that he was fired for reasons that, quite frankly, are a pretext and untrue,” Nesbitt added.

Lehmberg last month called the allegations “completely untrue,” reiterating Brand was fired for making racially insensitive comments and that a court order also believes the comments to be inappropriate.

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