CCSO Keynote Victories and Summaries – a sampling from Goyette and Associates:
In a recent Southern California victory a CDCR Captain was served with a notice of adverse action that included a 6 month reduction in salary and the notice remaining in his file for 36 months.A pre-hearing settlement conference was held in Los Angeles and the Department stubbornly refused to compromise. On the advice of counsel a hearing was set. A three day evidentiary hearing was set for the early fall of 2009. On the eve of hearing, literally the day before the hearing was supposed to start, the Department withdrew the action entirely. “The Departments withdrawal is an example of the opportunities that hard negotiation can create”, says Lauro Paredes, G&A attorney. The Captain’s back pay was reinstated and no record of the allegations will be recorded anywhere in his file.
A Lieutenant employed at CSP Solano was terminated from his position after 12 years of stellar service. Once referred to as the CDCR’s “Golden Boy” he suddenly found himself the focus of a politically driven nightmare which ultimately cost him his job. In an effort to validate his termination, the department conglomerated multiple alleged acts of misconduct spanning nearly a year of time and threw it all at the wall hoping something would stick. A full evidentiary appeal was conducted, during which the Lieutenant was represented by Dan Thompson of Goyette and Associates. The department’s key witness appeared to not only be unreliable but ultimately established themselves as downright dishonest. Judge Cote ruled in the CCSO member’s favor, finding none of the serious allegations (i.e. dishonesty, willful disobedience, code of silence and insubordination) to be valid. The only allegations sustained were for a minor dress code violation and comment made to a correctional officer who was being disrespectful to authority. The Lieutenant was reinstated to his former position and was awarded all back pay and benefits along with 7% interest. While the fight was long and hard, the victory was sweet.
In yet another grand display of “shoot first and ask (the right) questions later” the CDCR terminated a Lieutenant from Avenal State Prison for what amounted to little more than a simple oversight. After 17 years of unblemished service, this dedicated public servant found himself kicked to the curb and his career over. The facts surrounding the case were simple, he had served as a Senior Hearing Officer for a serious rules violation hearing for one of the inmates at Avenal. When the Lieutenant later completed his report, he was interrupted and inadvertently forgot to note that the witnesses testimony had been stipulated to rather than the witness actually being present. As a result, the department jumped to conclusions and accused the Lieutenant of intentionally falsifying the witnesses testimony in order to carry out some assumed personal vendetta against the inmate. What the department astonishingly failed to do was to speak to the witness and ask her if she had in fact provided her testimony to the Lieutenant. Among the charges were insubordination, willful disobedience, dishonesty, inexcusable neglect of duty, inefficiency and numerous other departmental policies. At the appeal hearing with State Personnel Board Administrative Law Judge Pipkin, the Lieutenant was represented by Dan Thompson of Goyette and Associates. At the hearing, it quickly became apparent that the Lieutenant had done none of what the Department was accusing him of. In the end, Judge Pipkin ruled he was not guilty of any of the serious allegations against him (i.e. dishonesty, willful disobedience or insubordination) and found rather that he had been merely neglectful in not reviewing his report more accurately. As a result, he was reinstated to his position as Lieutenant and awarded all back pay, benefits and 7% interest. This was yet another example of how poorly CDCR conducts investigations often resulting in tragic consequences to its employees.
If you are facing legal trouble as a state employee, make sure to get expert representation.