LCW Wins Dismissal Of Suspended Peace Officer’s Appeal

CATEGORY: Client Update for Public Agencies, Fire Watch, Law Enforcement Briefing Room, Public Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Public Education, Public Employers, Public Safety
DATE: Apr 01, 2022

LCW Partner Suzanne Solomon and Senior Counsel Dave Urban won the dismissal of a suspended peace officer’s appeal from the denial of the officer’s writ petition.  This victory is now a published decision of the California Court of Appeal.

In May 2019, Public Safety Officer David Meinhardt filed a petition for a writ of administrative mandate, otherwise known as a writ petition. A writ petition is a tool that a person may use to request a court to review a decision of an administrative body, such as a City Council or Personnel Board. In this case, Officer Meinhardt wanted the trial court to overturn a 44- hour suspension the City of Sunnyvale Personnel Board decided to impose on him.

The trial court upheld the suspension and, on August 6, 2020, issued an order denying Officer Meinhardt’s writ petition. This order was served to all parties. On August 14, 2020, Officer Meinhardt was served with the “Notice of Entry of Judgement or Order”. Finally, on September 17, 2020, the trial court signed its final judgment. It is from this September 17 judgment that Officer Meinhardt filed his appeal on October 15, 2020.

California Rules of Court at Rules 8.104(a)(1)(A) and (B) says that appeals of writ petitions must be filed within 60 days of the date that either the Notice of Entry or a file-endorsed copy of the judgment, is served on the party seeking to appeal. The Court of Appeal found in its published opinion that the August 6, 2020 order, which was served on all parties, was a final appealable judgment.  Based on the August 6 date, the last possible date for Officer Meinhardt to timely appeal was October 5, 2020, 10 days before Officer Meinhardt filed his Notice of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal further found that the August 14, 2020 service of the Notice of Entry of Judgment triggered a new 60-day timeline for filing a notice of appeal based on California Rules of Court at Rule 8.104(a)(1)(B).  Sixty days from August 14, 2020, was October 13, 2020, two full days before Officer Meinhardt filed his appeal. Even under the latter of the two dates, Officer Meinhardt’s appeal was untimely and thus barred.

Meinhardt v. City of Sunnyvale (Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety), 2022 WL 702912


In the Court of Appeal’s own words, this decision reiterates “the critical importance of determining whether a ruling on a petition for writ of mandate is a final judgment.” LCW attorneys can help public agencies make these determinations and ensure timely compliance with legal deadlines.

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