Jury to hear bias case of deputy in Gibson arrest

By ANTHONY McCARTNEY | January 12, 2012 | 2:01 PM EST

FILE - In this July 31, 2006 file photo, Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy James Mee speaks to a reporter, as he arrived at his home in Calabasas, Calif. An LA judge ruled Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, that Mee's allegations of discrimination should be heard by a jury, but cast doubts on whether the veteran officer can prove his case. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge says a jury should decide if a sheriff's deputy who arrested Mel Gibson for drunken driving faced discrimination after the incident because of his religion.

Deputy James Mee claims his supervisors at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department discriminated against him because he is Jewish. He says his advancement opportunities were diminished after Gibson made a series of anti-Semitic comments during his 2006 arrest.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Scheper ruled Thursday that jurors should decide whether Mee suffered discrimination and endured a hostile work environment. She also raised many pointed questions about whether he could persuade a jury.

Scheper dismissed Mee's claim that he suffered retaliation after Gibson's arrest.

The sheriff's department has denied the claims. The trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 14.