Pinellas County Attorney Carl Brody Abruptly Fired; Advocates Gearing Up to Challenge Decision

Senior Assistant Pinellas County Attorney Carl Brody (left) was notified of his termination by County Attorney Jewel White (right) on Friday, March 13th

Gypsy C. Gallardo for Power Broker Media Group  

Senior Assistant Pinellas County Attorney Carl Brody was abruptly fired this past Friday, apparently without warning and possibly without sufficient cause, according to Dr. Ricardo Davis, Chair of the Pinellas County’s Unified Personnel Board.

In an email to a small group of community leaders on Saturday morning, Davis describes Brody’s firing as fall-out from the recent controversy over the job performance of the County’s Human Resources Director Dr. Holly Schoenherr, which resulted in her resignation on March 4th.

Davis’ note read, in part, “During this controversial process, Mr. Carl Brody, Sr. County Attorney, the highest-ranking African-American in the County Attorney’s office, and a 23-yr employee of the County, was assigned as Counsel to the Personnel Board.  Mr. Brody’s performance has been excellent.  However, it is my understanding that on Friday, March 13th, 2020, Mr. Brody was abruptly terminated from his employment by the County Attorney, Jewel White, without explanation…This action… SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO STAND.”

Davis has called a special meeting of the Personnel Board meeting to discuss the matter. the meeting is open to the public and will take place on Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 6:30 p.m.

“I am asking all those who believe in the truth, to appear at this meeting, in support of my attempt to disclose [vital] information to the public on the record and to object to this racist action against Mr. Brody and his family,” wrote Dr. Davis. 

Thursday’s meeting will be held in the Board of County Commissioners Assembly Room at 315 Court Street in Clearwater.

St. Petersburg NAACP President Maria Scruggs says she plans to take action as well. In a Facebook post on Sunday, Scruggs wrote “The St.Petersburg Branch NAACP is calling on the National President Derrick Johnson , National NAACP Board chairman Leon Russell, NAACP FSC President Adora Nwezi, NAACP’S Upper Pinellas County President Zebbie Atkinson IV, civil rights attorneys Benjamin Crump and Michele K. Rayner-Goolsby to join us in this fight!”

Brody’s firing appears to stem from the misidentification of the newly named interim HR director as a relative of a County Personnel Board member. According to details released by Davis and featured in two Tampa Bay Times articles on the topic, the sequence of events leading to Brody’s ouster include the following milestones.

  • Thursday, March 5th – Paul Rogers, a member of the County Personnel Board, voted along with six other Board members to appoint Rogers’ step son-in-law Jack Loring as the County’s interim HR director. Rogers informed Attorney Brody of the family connection later that evening, via email.
  • Friday, March 6th – Attorney Brody informed Rogers via email that Florida law prohibits public officials from voting in matters involving relatives. As reported by the Times, Brody’s email instructed Rogers: “Please inform your appointing authority regarding this conflict in order to provide them an opportunity to replace you in your position on the Board. Alternatively, you may remain on the Board, but a new interim director will need to be chosen because of the ongoing conflict.”
  • Monday, March 9th – The Times reported that Rogers planned to immediately resign from the board.
  • Sometime between March 9th and Friday, March 13th The County Attorney’s office received clarification that Loring is Rogers’ step son-in-law, rather than son-in-law, which led County Attorney Jewel White to issue a memo on Friday afternoon clarifying that the legal advice originally rendered by her office was incorrect.
  • Late Friday afternoon on March 13th – Brody was fired and asked to immediately vacate his office.

Davis says he plans to share full details about the “back door” wrangling that led to Brody’s firing at the Personnel Board meeting on Thursday, unless pre-empted by Coronavirus. Community advocates are encouraged to attend.

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