Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz
defamation lawsuit against Maura
Larkins for statements on this
Testimony on this page:
Crime committed by the
district and by teachers
Deposition of Maura Larkins
by Ljubisa Kostic
June 16, 2008
Pages 15 to 25
18 Q. All right. Now, you were asked to come back
19 to work and worked during April 16th through 20th,
21 A. Right. One.
22 Q. Were you out of work for any period prior to
23 being asked?
24 A. Yes, I was.
25 Q. How long were you out before you were asked
1 to come back?
2 A. I was out from February 12th to April 16th,
3 when I did not work. Although I was asked to come
4 back on March 26th. But I said that I did not feel
5 safe coming back, that there would be new allegations
6 against me since the people who had made the first
8 You know, obviously the district would be
9 showing that it didn't believe them, that it -- that
10 they had -- they were not reliable, that actually they
11 committed crimes. It was a crime. It was a violation
12 of Labor Code -- wait, let me see if I get the
13 number -- 743.2, I think it is, the one that says that
14 you cannot use a record of arrest that does not lead
15 to a conviction to affect someone's employment. My
16 arrest did not even lead to charges.
17 Q. All right. Who asked you -- well, how was
18 it that you came not to work on February 12th through
19 April 16th? In other words, did somebody tell you not
20 to come to work? What happened?
21 A. Yes. On February 11th, my principal called
22 me up and said not to report to work in the morning.
23 Q. Did your principal tell you why?
24 A. Because I was instead to go to a meeting at
25 the district.
1 Q. Did you do that?
2 A. Yes, I did.
3 Q. What was discussed at the meeting at the
5 A. I was told that two teachers were afraid
6 that I was going to kill them.
7 Q. Which teachers were these?
8 A. These were anonymous allegations that the
9 district acted on.
10 Q. Do you believe that the district actually
11 received two anonymous concerns from teachers who
12 thought you might kill them?
13 A. Well, one of the teachers swore under oath
14 that -- actually, it is really hard to tell who was
15 lying. They contradicted each other. Richard Werlin,
16 the assistant superintendent for human resources,
17 contradicted teacher Jo Ellen Hamilton.
18 She admitted that she had called on
19 February 10th. Only under oath she said that she had
20 only called to ask if there was going to be a meeting
21 about me. Richard Werlin said that she had called and
22 said that she feared for her life.
23 Q. What is the teacher's name, I'm sorry?
24 A. Jo Ellen Hamilton.
25 Q. Is it "Jo Ellen," two words?
1 A. Yes, it is.
2 Q. Who took Jo Ellen Hamilton's deposition,
3 where she said under oath --
4 A. Elizabeth Schulman.
5 Q. Did Ms. Schulman ask Ms. Hamilton during the
6 deposition if she had recalled specifically every word
7 that she said to Mr. Richard -- is it Werlin?
8 A. Werlin.
9 Q. Werlin, okay. To Mr. Werlin?
10 A. No "d" at the end, just Werlin.
11 Q. Werlin, okay.
12 A. I don't know. But I believe that you have
13 that deposition in your -- here at this office.
14 Q. That may be. We may or may not. As I told
15 you, I don't have the background in all of this that
16 you do. I don't know if we have that deposition.
17 My question is -- did you read the
18 deposition transcript?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Carefully?
21 A. Pretty carefully. But I had been -- I had
22 been sitting there listening to it, too.
23 So I didn't have to read it so much because
24 I had heard it.
25 Q. So you were at the deposition?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. And then you reread the transcript?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Have you reviewed that transcript since your
5 initial review of it?
6 A. I probably have reviewed it more than once,
8 Q. Is it on your Web site, the deposition
9 transcript that you are talking about?
10 A. No. I have not gotten to do all that
12 Q. So my specific question is, did
13 Ms. Schulman -- if you recall, did Ms. Schulman ask
14 Ms. Hamilton whether Ms. Hamilton could recall
15 specifically what she said to Mr. Werlin -- Werlin
16 with no "d."
17 A. As I said before, I don't think so.
18 By the way, I would like to say, you know, I
19 am not 100 percent sure that "Jo Ellen" is two words.
20 Q. That's all right. We are going to try to
21 identify everyone as best we can.
22 Do you recall whether Ms. Hamilton may have
23 said that she did not recall specifically, exactly
24 what she might have said to Mr. Werlin?
25 A. She was quite evasive. I remember that it
1 was -- I think it was difficult for the shorthand
2 reporter to get the interaction down because she kept
3 saying things like -- well, she kept not answering,
4 and there were a lot of people talking over each
6 I remember that the shorthand reporter put
7 in the words -- that she said, "It is probable" when
8 Elizabeth Schulman asked her, again, at the very end
9 of the deposition, almost at the end, if she had said
10 that she feared for her life. I remember
11 Elizabeth Schulman read from Mr. Werlin's written
12 report about Jo Ellen Hamilton and asked her, "Did you
13 say this." And then she contradicted herself.
14 Q. What was the response there at the end?
15 A. Well, what the shorthand reporter put down
16 was "It is probable."
17 Q. So at some point during the deposition,
18 Ms. Hamilton indicated that it is probable. She said
19 something to Mr. Werlin to the effect that she -- that
20 "she," Hamilton, feared for her life with respect to
22 A. That is how the transcript goes. Yes, she
23 contradicted her testimony at the beginning of the
25 Q. Now, we have a scenario here where we have a
1 person who potentially made a complaint, saying that
2 she was concerned for her safety with respect to you?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And she is in a deposition and you are in
5 the same room?
6 A. Um-hmm.
7 Q. True?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. "She" being Ms. Hamilton. Ms. Hamilton is
10 then initially asked whether she specifically said
11 that she feared for her life.
12 When she is asked that question, you -- the
13 person she may have complained about, you are right
14 there in the same room, true?
15 A. True.
16 Q. I mean, did it ever occur to you that that
17 would make someone uncomfortable possibly? If, in
18 fact, Ms. Hamilton made a complaint or said to
19 someone, "Jeez, I am worried about what might happen
20 to me," and then you have the person who she fears
21 right there when she is being asked these questions by
22 a lawyer.
23 I mean, is that a situation that you can
24 appreciate might intimidate someone or might make them
1 A. Yes. Particularly if they had committed a
2 crime. Their complaint, as in this case, was she was
3 not afraid of me. She had just been very aggressive
4 with me on the Tuesday before she made this complaint,
5 yelling at me as I walked away from her. She was not
6 afraid of me. She was afraid of having the criminal
7 actions of herself and other teachers being exposed.
8 That is what she was afraid of.
9 Q. How do you know that?
10 A. I am the star witness in this case. In
11 every event about where people discussed my behavior,
12 I was a witness. I know the truth.
13 Q. No. What I am asking you is, how do you
14 know what somebody like Ms. Hamilton -- I mean, did
15 Ms. Hamilton tell you that she was not afraid of you?
16 A. I know --
17 Q. No. Please answer my question. Did
18 Ms. Hamilton tell you that she was not afraid of you?
19 A. No.
20 Q. Did anyone tell you that Ms. Hamilton had
21 said to them that Ms. Hamilton was not afraid of you?
22 A. No.
23 Q. So when you say that Ms. Hamilton was not
24 afraid of you, that is your opinion based on what you
25 have seen and heard?
1 A. Of course. That would have been hearsay, if
2 someone else had told me.
3 Q. I am not concerned about evidentiary
4 objections. So try to follow me here.
5 A. No, but we are talking about what is going
6 on in Ms. Hamilton's mind.
7 Q. Right.
8 A. What I am saying is that someone coming and
9 telling me something about what is going on in her
10 mind, that would not prove anything about what's
11 going -- well, it would open up an avenue for
12 investigation, at best.
13 Q. So if Ms. Hamilton said to someone, "I am
14 not afraid of that woman, Maura Larkins," then that
15 would be some indication that Ms. Hamilton was not
16 afraid of you?
17 A. It would be. Okay. Now, you are going back
18 to an earlier point in this chain of events. What you
19 were earlier talking about was if someone came to me
20 and said, "Ms. Hamilton said." Okay. Now you want to
21 go back and posit a hypothetical that if Ms. Hamilton
22 had said to this person, "I am not afraid of
23 Maura Larkins."
24 I would say -- you know, if I knew this to
25 be a fact; for example, if I had witnessed her saying
1 it, I would think that that would be evidence in
2 support of the fact -- in support of the belief that
3 she was not afraid of me.
4 Q. You did not personally ever witness
5 Ms. Hamilton say anything to the effect of "I am not
6 afraid of Maura Larkins"?
7 A. No.
8 Q. Okay.
9 A. But I did witness her screaming at me in
10 front of all the children at recess as I walked away
11 from her, a few days before she made that allegation.
12 Q. Have you discussed with Ms. Hamilton whether
13 she started to fear you before or after the screaming
14 that you are describing?
15 A. I never saw her again between the screaming
16 and her phone call.
17 Q. So you don't know at what point she
18 allegedly started to fear you?
19 A. The story was, was that she became afraid of
20 me during that encounter, which ended with her
21 screaming at me as I walked away.
22 Q. Your belief is that if someone is capable of
23 screaming during an encounter, that must mean without
24 further question that that person is not afraid of
25 whoever she was screaming at?
1 A. That and a whole lot of other evidence,
2 including the fact that she was worried, as she said
3 in her deposition, that she might get in trouble.
4 Q. What was she worried she would get in
5 trouble about?
6 A. Because, I believe, it was January 23rd,
7 just a couple weeks before this, I had written a
8 letter to my principal and said that I had been
9 harassed for about a year and I had held up quite
10 well, but it was just getting to be too much. I
11 really wanted to have a meeting to talk to her about
13 Q. It was Ms. Hamilton who was harassing you?
14 A. I mentioned no names in the letter.
15 Ms. Hamilton said in her deposition that she believed
16 that the letter would end up in her personnel file.
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Actually, the correct Labor Code
section is 432.7
Part (c) of the section clearly
describes a violation of this
section as a criminal act:
In any case where a person violates this
section, or Article 6
(commencing with Section 11140) of
Chapter 1 of Title 1 of Part 4 of
the Penal Code, the applicant may bring
an action to recover from
that person actual damages...
An intentional violation of this section
shall entitle the applicant to
treble actual damages...
violation of this section
is a misdemeanor
punishable by a fine not
to exceed five hundred
Education Reform Report
Why did Jo Ellen Hamilton
fear that a letter that
mentioned no names
would end up in her
She was demonstrating an
awareness of guilt.