Following two separate Skelly hearings, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Pat Hedges recommended that Monterey County Deputy Sheriff Marie Evans be returned to work on July 21, 2009, reversing a proposed termination. The Monterey County Sheriff’s Department had initially proposed a10-day suspension for misconduct. Upon learning of this proposal, Deputy Evans immediately requested her pre-disciplinary Skelly hearing. During the first Skelly hearing before Monterey County Sheriff Mike Kanalakis, on June 12, 2009, Evans and her attorney presented facts and argument in mitigation of the allegations against her. Kanalakis advised he would take the matter under submission and provide Deputy Evans with his decision on the following Monday.
Contrary to his assurance, Kanalakis did not render his decision until July 2, 2009 – nearly three weeks after Evans’ Skelly hearing. In his decision, Kanalakis determined that the appropriate discipline was now termination. Deputy Evans was then placed on paid administrative leave. After rendering his decision, at Evans’ request, Kanalakis provided Deputy Evans with a second Skelly hearing, this time before the Sheriff of San Luis Obispo County, Pat Hedges. Sheriff Hedges heard the same facts and argument in mitigation as presented at the first Skelly hearing, and decided to set aside the decision of Sheriff Kanalakis and impose the original 10-day suspension. Sheriff Kanalakis Recommends Termination in Retaliation: At the first Skelly hearing, Deputy Evans and her attorney admitted to some of the conduct alleged and provided facts in mitigation of others. Still other allegations were outright denied and facts in rebuttal were given. Deputy Evans and her attorney were respectful and courteous to Sheriff Kanalakis and requested that the 10-day suspension be set aside and that a “Letter of Reprimand” for the admitted conduct be given as the appropriate discipline under the circumstances. In Sheriff Kanalakis’ July 2, 2009 decision to terminate Deputy Evans, he stated “You did not appear to take responsibility or ownership for the allegations against you of insubordination, rudeness and unprofessional behavior. “Your continued failure to recognize your ongoing inability to identify your inappropriate behavior is indicative of why prior attempts to discipline you and correct your unacceptable behavior mandate your termination at this time. It is obvious to me that the 10 working day’s suspension would fail to get you to correct your behavior.” Sheriff Kanalakis did not provide any additional information, evidence or argument to support his drastic change in decision from the 10-day suspension to termination. There were no admissions made during the Skelly hearing to indicate dishonesty; nor did the sheriff perform any additional investigation which could have revealed that the proposed discipline was no longer warranted and that termination was required. His entire reasoning for terminating Deputy Evans was that she did not come to the Skelly hearing prepared to admit responsibility for every allegation. Sheriff Kanalakis’ statement that Deputy Evans did not take ownership for the allegations serves to prove this point.
The entire purpose of a Skelly hearing is to take ownership of allegations that the employee has admitted and rebut or deny responsibility for allegations that the employee feels should not be sustained. Kanalakis purportedly reasoned that the purpose of discipline is to ensure that the conduct is not repeated and that such a result could not be accomplished by discipline short of termination because Evans failed to admit to each and every one of the allegations. The sheriff’s reasoning created a very precarious slippery slope. With his reasoning, a Letter of Reprimand given to an employee could become a termination if the employee does not agree with the findings and provides a rebuttal denying the allegations. The sheriff’s actions were clearly an attempt to punish Deputy Evans for rebutting any of the factual findings that the investigation noted. After the decision, many other employees were afraid that a proposed suspension would evolve into a termination after the Skelly hearing. Talk of avoiding the use of a representative or attorney ran rampant, for fear that if an officer retained counsel, they might be terminated. Further, in an attempt to remove the possibility of retaliation by the sheriff in the form of more severe discipline or even termination, the idea of appealing any discipline to the Skelly hearing was also discussed as something to avoid. San Luis Obispo Sheriff Pat Hedges Sets Aside the Decision of Sheriff Mike Kanalakis: On July 9, 2009, during her second Skelly hearing, Deputy Evans and her attorney met with Sheriff Pat Hedges of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department. Information was again provided in mitigation and rebuttal of many of the allegations against Evans, and she took responsibility for the factual determination, admitting she did the alleged acts. Sheriff Hedges was respectful and very professional. He asked probative and relevant clarifying questions, which indicated a real concern for Deputy Evans and her situation.
After a few days of consideration, Sheriff Hedges issued his decision, on July 17, 2009 – that the decision to terminate Deputy Evans should be set aside as excessive and inappropriate. Sheriff Hedges indicated that a provision in the MOU, Section 10.3.2, stated in relevant part that “In order to implement either the proposed disciplinary action or a lesser disciplinary action based on the same cause(s), . . .” increased disciplinary action taken by Sheriff Kanalakis is precluded. At the time of this writing, the administrative case has not been concluded because Deputy Evans has appealed the10-day suspension, arguing that such discipline is also excessive, in light of which allegations can be sustained and which cannot. While that appeal is proceeding, Deputy Evans has been returned to work, placed back on full duty. Deputy Evans and the Monterey Deputy Sheriff’s Association extend their sincere appreciation to Sheriff Pat Hedges of San Luis Obispo, for his involvement, professionalism, and ultimate findings.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sean D. Howell is a PORAC LDF panel attorney with Mastagni, Holstedt, Amick, Miller & Johnsen. He represented Deputy Marie Evans in her administrative appeal through the PORAC Legal Defense Fund.
PORAC Legal Defense Administrator Ed Fishman Testimony: Law Enforcement Use of Body Cameras.
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- Adam Laird Eureka POA
Dear PORAC Legal Defense Fund, This email has been weighing on my heart and should have been sent a long time ago. However, time seems to move fast even though your life has been put on hold. I have been on administrative leave since December of 2012. In April of 2013, I was arrested for the performance of my duties. Since the administrative side this case has not been resolved, I won't be getting into specific details regarding my case. However, I will say that I never thought that my life would turned upside down by doing the job that I love, and doing it in a way that I had been trained. I have been in Law Enforcement for 10 years, and I have been paying my monthly dues all along. I never really understood how important paying dues might be for me, I just thought it was the "cost of business". After being arrested, I understood the real worth of that investment. Because of politics, my case was given the "full court press". On January 3rd of 2014, the case against me was dismissed. It took no less than 5 experts to convince the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office to request dismissal. The time, effort, and money that this case cost couldn't have been endured by me as the sole provider of a family of four. LDF was there, big time. The panel attorney's under LDF were the best in the business. In the uncertain time during the criminal process, I couldn't have imagined how much help they could be. What a relief to know that LDF had my back. I am used to defending those who can't defend themselves. That's my job. When I was defenseless, LDF and the attorneys assigned to my case were my advocates and defenders. I thank you. My criminal attorney said it best at the conclusion of my criminal case: "Adam and his family are thankful that they can now move forward. The evidence showing Sgt. Laird was innocent was overwhelming. The expert EPD hired said that the suspect was rising up when Sgt. Laird pushed him back to the ground. The two experts that the DA’s office hired said that the force was reasonable and appropriate. The defensive tactics instructor who trained Adam said he acted consistent with his training in apprehending a high risk suspect in a dangerous situation. In total, five separate police practices experts reviewed the case and unanimously said Sgt. Laird acted appropriately". "It is hard to imagine what it must be like to risk your life apprehending a known gang member only to be charged with using excessive force when the suspect stated that he did not even feel the contact at issue. It is simply bizarre that Sgt. Laird was ever charged with a crime". Thank you. My family and I will forever be grateful for your service, Sergeant Adam Laird
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My experience was made much less stressful thanks to the LDF representation.
- Christopher Connally Assn of LEA
To whom it may concern: Let me start by saying how much I appreciate the opportunity to join the PORAC Legal Defense Fund. This is a great benefit for our membership. During the past twelve months I was fortunate to have access to the Legal Defense Fund through MPCA. Earlier this year I was both surprise, and disappointed, when realized that I needed to provide counsel to mediate pending litigation. In accessing the Legal Defense Fund I found your staff to be very professional and reassuring. The staff felt that [my representative]., would be the best ft for the situation. I would like to take the opportunity to express my appreciation for being represented by [Rick Barry]. Not only was he a good fit for the circumstances, at times it seemed as if he was the only attorney out of several involved that really had a grasp on the issues. Again, I would like to thank the PORAC staff, and know that I could not have been better served than by what was provided by [my representative].
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This was the first time in my twenty-five year career that I had to use the services of my legal defense fund. My LDF Representative was extremely courteous, informative and professional.. She addressed all of my concerns and answered all of my questions. She did an overall outstanding job of representing me and handling my case. I could not have been any more pleased or satisfied with the job she did! I would definitely request her to represent me in the future if I needed representation.
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My attorney was excellent. I would use her again.
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I have only used LDF once for myself, which with the circumstance was great. I work with LDF in my assignment ( OIS investigator ) and after approximately 4-5 OIS's, I have great experiences with LDF.
- Cherie Rye Lyon Co SEA
I am very happy with the service I received from LDF. I am grateful that our association includes LDF as part of our dues.
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[My representative] was awesome.
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Everything was great!
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The LDF responded immediately upon my request for counsel. LDF provided the best representative I could receive! When I called LDF for advice, I was given advice again immediately. Thank you LDF for your concern.
- Micheal Chad Heiser Santa Rosa POA
LDF is a valuable resource that no law enforcement officer should be without.
- Keith Braden Los Angeles School Police Mgmt Assn
Great work, no complaints.
- Sherri Coral Riverside Community College
He was very professional. I trusted him to defend and he did! I am very thankful he was here for me.
- Alex Camarillo LASchool P A
[My Representative] did an excellent job with my case. He was very professional and kept me well informed throughout this case. Thank you for an awesome job.
- Robert Muelberg Denver PPA
I could not have had a better attorney. [My representative ] went way above and beyond his duties. I would not have had a better experience with my representative. I believe that the LDF is the single most important benefit a police officer could have!
- Evelyn Hooks Shasta CO PPOA
Thank God for the L.D.F.
- Jurell Snyder Oakland POA
My LDF representative had a power point presentation, which was extremely professional.
- Dan McDow San Luis Obispo POA
[My representative] is the poster face representative of the greatest attorney (representative) that anyone could possibly ask for. She gets a 12 out of 10 star rating. Nobody works harder.
- Steven Moorehouse Redding POA
Thank you for your help.
- Dan Lovelace Chandler LEA
Thank you for the funding and support. I would be in jail right now if it were not for LDF. I would not have had the funding to pay for the case. It was a tremendous help having [my representative] and his support team and the many experts supplied by LDF. I speak for myself, my family and other members of my association.
- Jonathan Smith San Diego D.A. Investigators
I couldn't be happier or more satisfied with my LDF Representative, the process and the outcome of my case.
- Kenneth Nelson Plumas Co SA
Good job. Thank you! [My representative] does an outstanding job representing the employees and seems to be very intimidating to the [County Management]. We like it this way!
- Carlos Gonzalez Oakland POA
Very well informed group.
- Jorge Garcia San Joaquin Co Corr Officers
No criticism to give. Very well.
- Michael Kan Palo Alto POA
I have always been and will continue to be a strong supporter of LDF and would not work as a police officer without it. I am extremely happy with the service I have received both from LDF and [my representative].
- Richard Salcido Brea PA
LDF is a great organization that not only helps their clients but many of those around them such as coworkers and family members.
- Nick Bannister Phoenix LEA
I was extremely grateful for professional representation provided by ( my attorney ) during this extremely stressful situation
- William Pryor Statewide University PA
Very helpful program. Helped keep department personnel focused on the issue regardless of their personal issues.
- Patrick Beggs Fresno Co DSA
Good service. Thank you.
- Ricky L. Hemphill Los Angeles School PA
[My representative] was an excellent lawyer.
- Chris Lyon Tulare Co DSA
Very thorough group of sharp/smart government concerned [attorneys]. They understood what was happening and briefed me on everything. I was very impressed.
- Robyn Delaney Mono County PSOA
[My Representative] truly is an exceptional attorney. He has always represented me with honesty and compassion. Well Done.
- Jeff Stanley Upland POA
Excellent program, no one should be without this coverage.
- Yvonne Heuston ERS/SPPOA Supervisors
My representative was outstanding and knew what to lookout for and how to handle situations as they appeared. He told me what to expect and how he proposed to handle the hurdles. Just telling what to expect helped put me at ease as the situation was so foreign to me, and intimidating.
- Kevin Hullquist Siskiyou Co. Correctional POA
[My representative] did a good job representing me. Kept me informed.
- Keith Stiver Hayward POA
[My representative] brings a superlative reputation, a comforting and confidence building demeanor and a clear expertise to the table. In particular I appreciate her philosophy that she gives her total undivided attention to her clients during their appointments.
- Rich Stepper Montana PPA
[ My representative ] was very knowledgeable regarding dept & legal rules regarding officer involved shooting. Provided good legal advice & was very supportive.
- Eric Olson Escondido POA
You guys did an amazing job! Thank you L.D.F. !
- Allison Clark Twin Cities POA
[My representative] is the best attorney LDF has. Her attention to details, professionalism, and intelligence were off the charts. If I did not have her as a rep I would probably be out of a job. She is fair and she was honestly concerned about me, my family and my case.
- Steven Mayorga Ventura County DSA
I was well represented and very glad to have LDF. Thank you.
- John Tinder Chino POA
Having an LDF attorney who is experienced, knowledgeable and professional is an outstanding quality. [My representative ]exhibit all of these qualities and more. They are outstanding and I would not entrust my career to anyone else!
- Nestor Hernandez San Diego POA
This is a great program designed to protect LEO’s in need
- Katie Angermiller Tuolumne Co DSA
I was very satisfied with the work the LDF performed. The lawyers and clerical staff at [law firm] were all very kind, professional and they always assisted me when I called and never made me feel like I was a burden. Thank you LDF!
- Nancy Page Aurora PA
I didn't end up needing his service but he was awesome in what conversations we had before the matter was resolved. Very valuable - LDF!
- Gary J. Foppiano Oakland POA
[My representative] has been in my corner for 28 years. I have been represented by this firm probably 6 times in my career from minor to major discipline cases with a great outcome for me. They're batting 100%
- John Dougherty National City POA
My LDF Representative was [Representative]. He did an outanding job with my case and I am overjoyed with the results.
- Anthony Alonzo South Gate POA
Very pleased with the way the process was explained to me. Received updated info faster than I expected. Overall a good experience in a not so good situation. Thanks to LDF.
- Clyde Williams San Diego Harbor POA
Thank you for all of the work related to my officer involved shooting case.
- Rodney Kirkland Oakland POA
Being a police officer in the city of Oakland, I appreciate the services that are offered.
- Douglas Mansker Bakersfield POA
(My attorney) is a very good attorney, despite his young age. He kept me well informed throughout my legal matter and returned phone calls in a prompt manner. I was very satisfied with his performance and would not hesitate to be represented by him again.
- Patricia Goss San Anselmo POA
[My Representative] is fabulous! Thanks for all the exra work she did for me!
- Kenneth S. Blonski East Bay Regional Parks PMA
I was very pleased with my representative.
- Kim Jasper Alhambra POA
Excellent service, prompt and courteous.
- RIchard Okeson Hesperia USD POA
I can't express how satisfying and comforting it was to have such a well qualified and pleasant attorney at my side. Thank you so much for everything you did for me, and if you can, please thank [ my representative] again for being there for me.
- Christopher Walters Antioch POA
My LDF rep was very attentive, and courteous. She made every effort to keep me informed, and kept my best interests at the front of the process. I was very satisfied with my LDF rep, and the entire process.
- Jack Ellis Lompoc POA
An excellent plan. Very valuable to its members.
- Gina Romines San Joaquin Co Corr POA
I couldn't have been more satisfied with the representative!
- Miguel Suarez Monterey Co DSA
[My representative] was very knowledgeable and courteous. He knew his stuff, and I couldn't have asked for a better guy to be on my side on this matter. Thanks.
- Christine Farmer Tehama Co DSA
Mine was a fairly simple situation and I may not have needed representative. I am glad I called for help, it gave me peace of mind and reassurance.
- Derwin Longmire Oakland POA
Outstanding [law firm] - incredible firm. And, LDF was easy to work and correspond with.
- Christopher Adams Modesto POA
Thank you for all your help!
- Paul Barrolaza Twin Cities POA
- Gilbert Garcia Oceanside POA
My attorney provided outstanding representation.
- Christopher Boyd Carlsbad POA
[My representative] was an outstanding attorney to work with. Even though I did not receive a desirable outcome entirely, I was exceptionally satisfied with his representation. Thank you.
- Andrew J. Brice Santa Maria POA
As always... an excellent result.