Fired prosecutor gets lawyer of her own

Published February 2, 2007

TAMPA - Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober is used to defense attorneys lobbying on behalf of their clients.

But a letter from a Largo lawyer this week wasn't typical fare. "My client has suffered severe embarrassment and emotional trauma due to your draconian actions," the letter read.

The client: Bethany L. Jackson, an assistant state attorney fired because she didn't report a colleague who smoked pot in her apartment.

Jackson's attorney, John Trevena, not only is helping fight her dismissal but also hired her as an attorney for his firm.

Trevena wants Jackson's former boss to allow her to voluntarily resign so her record isn't permanently marred. He said she was treated differently than other prosecutors around Florida, such as those in Pinellas County who kept their jobs after arrests for drunken driving.

Jackson, 27, said this week that she didn't witness any illegal behavior.

Jackson said she worked as a secretary at the state attorney's office, then went to law school so she could be a lawyer there. Her dismissal, she said, has been "devastating."

Trevena said requiring a prosecutor to report any violation of law that she comes across is an impossible responsibility.

"Basically, you have to be the ultimate rat of rats," said Trevena, who hired Jackson in December.

Under Florida law, Ober's office has six months to investigate the claim.