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Court Upholds Lawfulness Of Governor’s Order Extending POBR Statute Of Limitations During Pandemic

CATEGORY: Client Update for Public Agencies, Fire Watch, Law Enforcement Briefing Room
CLIENT TYPE: Public Employers, Public Safety
DATE: May 03, 2022

LCW Partner Geoff Sheldon and Senior Counsel Dave Urban successfully advocated on behalf of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for the lawfulness of the Governor’s order, issued in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, to extend the POBR’s one-year statute of limitations.  The California Department of Justice represented the Governor in the case.  The Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) brought the case.

Under attack in the case was the Governor’s March 2020 Executive Order N-40-20. Among other things, that Order provided that the one-year deadline, specified in Government Code section 3304(d), for completing investigations of alleged misconduct by public safety officers, was extended by 60 days. In enacting this Order, the Governor explained that “under the provisions of [the California Emergency Services Act (CESA)] …, I find that strict compliance with various statutes and regulations specified in this order would prevent, hinder, or delay appropriate actions to prevent and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

ALADS filed a writ petition in the superior court seeking an order that the Governor’s action to toll the POBR statute of limitations for 60 days was unconstitutional.  ALADS also sought to enjoin the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department from relying on the Governor’s Executive Order.

The court denied the union’s petition. The Governor issued the Order pursuant to the CESA emergency powers. Because the Governor had issued a state of emergency, CESA offered the Governor broad discretion to issue orders necessary to carry out the purposes of the Act, including the extension of this POBR statute of limitations. As a result, all disciplinary actions that relied upon the extension remained.

Note:

We are proud that LCW was able to assist police and sheriff’s departments throughout the state that had relied upon the extension of this POBR statute of limitations to pursue needed disciplinary actions.

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