The director of the Department of Corrections provided few details Monday about the firing of the Deer Lodge warden to a legislative committee, but did suggest legal action could be in the future.
Michael Fletcher was fired last Tuesday. His hiring was announced in March 2017 and he was still under a probationary period that would have ended in April.
"I really don't think it's appropriate for me to go into the specific details of the why" of the firing, Corrections Director Reginald Michael told the committee.
"Ultimately the separation was simply because we had the authority, I had the authority as director, to choose whether this was the most appropriate fit for the Montana State Prison to lead that organization and I simply did not believe he was."
Michael said "the process may not yet be over" in regards to Fletcher's firing.
"The decision to separate an employee from service might come with legal repercussions and there may still be some issues to address from a legal standpoint," Michael said.
Sen. Diane Sands, D-Missoula, pushed Michael on the details surrounding the firing.
"Perhaps he wasn't the most appropriate, but was he in fact inappropriate?" Sands asked.
Michael said he had conversations with the governor about his concerns and determined it "was simply not an appropriate relationship moving forward."
"I was not comfortable continuing the relationship with the former warden," said Michael, who was hired to lead the Department of Corrections last April and was not involved in Fletcher's hiring. "What I hope the next time we work through the process of selecting a warden is that individuals will meet the expectations we all have. … Warden Fletcher did some wonderful things, but there were some concerns I could not ignore."
Fletcher was most recently the superintendent of a maximum-security juvenile detention facility in Nevada, where he served as superintendent of the Summit View Youth Facility in Las Vegas.
Fletcher was chosen to reopen the troubled Nevada Department of Health and Human Services facility in August 2015 after it had been closed for the third time.
Previously, he served as warden of operations at Ely State Prison, a maximum-security penitentiary in rural Nevada. Fletcher worked for the Nevada Department of Corrections from November 2010 until August 2015.