LCW Leads County to Victory in POBR Case

Category: Client Update
Date: Apr 1, 2019 11:54 AM

In a case handled by LCW Partner Jesse Maddox, the California Court of Appeal dismissed a case a district attorney’s investigator brought against a county for violation of the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act (“POBR”).

The County suspended the investigator for dishonesty, and he appealed the decision to the County’s Employment Appeals Board (“EAB”). After an evidentiary hearing, the EAB upheld the suspension. The investigator did not ask the Superior Court to reverse the EAB’s final decision pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5.  That law authorizes a superior court to review the record of an administrative tribunal, like the EAB, for certain errors.

Instead, the investigator waited over 10 months before requesting the trial court to issue an order compelling the EAB to overturn its decision under Code of Civil Procedure section 1085. A request under section 1085 asks a court to compel an agency to follow its obligations under the law. The investigator claimed that the County violated his POBR rights when it did not provide him with all of the materials related to the investigation that led to his suspension. The County had provided the investigator with a copy of the Internal Affairs investigation into his conduct, but it did not provide certain documents the County had designated as confidential under section 3303(g) of the POBR.

The trial court dismissed the investigator’s claims. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision. The Court of Appeal concluded that the investigator used the wrong procedures to ask the court to reverse the EAB’s decision. The investigator could have raised his POBR claim with the trial court either before the EAB’s final administrative appeal decision or in conjunction with a request seeking judicial review of the EAB proceedings under section 1094.5. Because the investigator raised his claim after the final EAB decision and did not file a request pursuant to section 1094.5, the court found that the investigator was barred from relitigating the EAB’s finding that there was cause for his suspension.

Note:

LCW Partner Jesse Maddox is one of many LCW attorneys who provide expert POBR advice and litigation defense.  They know how to successfully discipline a peace officer and all of the procedural ins and outs of POBR litigation.  

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