Senior Deputy Probation Officer Theresa Hunnewell faced a no-win situation. Only several months into her promotion as a senior deputy, she found herself with the untenable assignment of trying to find a juvenile placement facility that would accept a minor named “James.” Sounds easy enough except that James had either absconded or been kicked out of the last three placement facilities he’d been in. Truth is, James had issues. A lot of issues. Trans-gender issues. Sexual promiscuity issues. In at least one prior facility, James had demonstrated sexually assaultive behavior towards other minors younger than himself. He had also absconded from a prior facility and prostituted himself. James was on anti-depressants, James was low-functioning, and James was also turning 18 in a few months. If no placement facility accepted him, he’d be on the street probably prostituting himself again, using drugs, self-destructing. Even Hunnewell’s supervisor opined that if they could not find a viable placement for James soon, he would likely max-out in Juvenile Hall, be on the street and, potentially, wind up dead.
The easy answer was that if no facility would take him with his issues and history, then he would just have to sit in Juvenile Hall and max-out. The system would have played its part, for better or for worse. Hunnewell and her colleagues had made attempts, had done their best. If no other placement facility would take James, it would not be for lack of effort.
But Terry Hunnewell did not get into law enforcement, juvenile probation in particular, to give up that easy on a minor, even a minor as fraught with problems as James. After much research, she found a facility that would take James, a facility in Sacramento specializing in treating sexual offenders called Breaking the Cycle. As James was not a convicted sexual offender and had exhibited victim issues as well as predatory behavior, the director of the facility promised Hunnewell that they would put together an individualized program for James based on his victim issues. Hunnewell conferred with her partner and supervisor, and all agreed that this was probably James’ last chance not only at placement but also to receive any type of treatment for his myriad of issues. If they did not place him at Breaking the Cycle, all three felt that the system, and the three of them would have let him down with the potential for dire consequences. Society also would not benefit when James hit the streets with all of these issues unresolved.
Hunnewell and her partner picked up James at Juvenile Hall, drove to the airport, and along with another juvenile, flew to Sacramento. After the other juvenile was met at the airport by representatives of her placement facility, Hunnewell and her partner drove James to Breaking the Cycle. In the car, James asked if he would have to get a hair cut. Hunnewell replied that she did not know. When they arrived at the facility, James stated that he did not like the place.
They entered the facility and met with the director, who informed James and Hunnewell that yes, James would have to get his hair cut. James refused. He had long hair and although the issue really had not come up before, identified his trans-gender issues with his hair. After talking to James for some time, he agreed to the haircut. He sat in the chair. One of the program’s employees came out with a pair of scissors and electronic shears. James jumped out of his seat, flailed his arms, screamed, used profanity, and threatened to run away. As Terry and her partner tried to reassure him, he bolted for the door. Hunnewell and her partner blocked his way, grabbed him, and told him that if he did not cooperate they would have to violate his probation. He resisted. Hunnewell and her partner restrained him for his own safety as well as their own, and gently placed him on the ground. Realizing that James was blowing his last chance for treatment, let alone placement, Hunnewell looked up at the director and asked if the program would still accept James if he got his haircut. The director responded that it would, but it was up to Hunnewell. Thinking that it was in James’ best interest to enter the program, Hunnewell began cutting James’ hair while he was restrained on the ground. At first, James got one hand loose from the handcuffs and actively resisted. He then began to cry, and asked if he could keep his sheared hair. He was told that he could, and that the haircut would look much better if he sat in the chair and cooperated. He did, and the employee from the placement finished the cut.
Hunnewell and her partner left to visit some other placements. While in the car, Hunnewell phoned her supervisor and explained what happened. Although she did not go into detail, both she and her partner recall Terry relaying to her supervisor that James had been detained, and that “they” had cut his hair while he was detained, against his will. Hunnewell’s supervisor was troubled by the matter, but did not follow-up further. No use of force report was requested nor written, only the standard “Chronos” in the minor’s file briefly describing the event.
About a month later, the court-appointed counsel for James appeared in court objecting to the haircut, threatening a civil lawsuit, and demanding that his client be brought back from the facility. James was ordered back from Breaking the Cycle by the Probation Department, who never informed the program that he would not be returning. He was placed in Juvenile Hall while the department investigated the matter. He was later put into a “wrap-around” home program that he failed, absconded, was arrested for 11550 H&S and is currently on the street with at least one active warrant for his arrest. Hunnewell was summarily demoted from her probationary status as a senior deputy probation officer and, after the investigation, suspended without pay for 30 days for allegedly violating a litany of probation department policies, Welfare and Institution code sections, and Business and Professional code sections. Unfortunately, per the Memorandum of Understanding between Hunnewell’s association and the county, her demotion from her probationary promotion was not appealable. She appealed the suspension.
At the appeal hearing Hunnewell was represented by Michael Schwartz of Silver, Hadden & Silver. Schwartz brought out the fact that the department had no set procedure for training new seniors, nor policies in place for dealing with juveniles who resist placement. Though the department tried to paint James with a broad brush as a troubled kid looking for sympathy, Schwartz brought out the fact everyone felt this was James’ last chance for help, that with all of his issues, including prior sexual predatory behavior, he was a probation officer’s worst nightmare, and not just some victimized youth searching for love. Moreover, the director and her assistant from Breaking the Cycle testified credibly, as did Hunnewell’s partner, that nothing that transpired in that room rose to the level of abuse or mishandling, as all present had James’ best interests at heart. The director also testified and produced evidence that although the department had lodged a complaint with the state for the actions of the program’s representatives in the case, after a full investigation the state unfounded the charges. Hunnewell testified that although in hindsight she should have called her supervisor before the situation rose to a restrain level, as well as written a more detailed Chrono, she was in fact acting in what she considered James’ best interests and those of the department.
The arbitrator agreed, and sustained only general policy violations against her. The arbitrator concluded that (1) Hunnewell had acted in what she felt at the time was the best interests of the minor; (2) that Hunnewell had received little to no training to deal with such situations; and (3) that Hunnewell had an unblemished record of service up until that time. The suspension was ordered reduced from 30 days to only five days, with an appropriate award of back pay and benefits. For her part, Terry Hunnewell is grateful that her excellent LDF representation gave her an opportunity for vindication.
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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Great job by all! Always great to know LDF is there when needed.
- Daniel Smock Ventura County PPOA
Everything went smooth. I think the current system works very well.
- Sean Tinney Berkeley PA
[My representative] was very attentive to my case and thorough with his investigation. I would request [him] again in the future.
- 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.
- Michelle Foerder Pinole PEA
I thank God for the support of LDF and my attorney. I had a letter of intent to be fired and he helped me turn it all around. I still have my job and I'm so grateful.
- Jeff Griffin Downey POA
My experience with the LDF, and in particular my attorney, was extremely positive. [ My attorney ] worked very hard and kept me informed along the way.
- Jeff Stanley Upland POA
Excellent representation. [My representative] is a great attorney.
- Scot Hicks Humbolt County DSO
My experience was made much less stressful thanks to the LDF representation.
- Christopher Delaney Upland POA
Your rep was very personal. Even though my case involved something minor, your rep made me [feel] my case was his most important. I am very satisfied with my LDF team.
- Christopher M. Fuzie Modesto POA
I was very impressed with the speed at which the case was handled. Thank you!
- Gina Romines San Joaquin Co Corr POA
I couldn't have been more satisfied with the representative!
- James F. Beland Lake County SDA
- Brian Schopf Elk Grove POA
Keep up the good work.
- Ron Ruddy Riverside POA
- Carl Miller Clearlake POA
- Steven E. Lopez Santa Maria POA
Keep up the Good Work! Your service was extremely helpful to me. Thank you.
- David Baker Placerville POA
My experience through dealing with this matter was horrific. Without the efforts of the LDF and more specifically [my representative], I would most certainly have fallen victim to a corrupt and unethical administration. The LDF has saved my career and brought me justice.
- Nestor Hernandez San Diego POA
This is a great program designed to protect LEO’s in need
- Rodd N. Joseph Clearlake MMA
I appreciate the fact that my representative met with me in a social setting prior to the interview, during which time she learned the facts of the case. She was prepared for the interview. She seemed to have a genuine interest in my case.
- Alvaro Ancheta Glendora POA
I felt I was represented in a thorough and professional manner.
- Micheal Chad Heiser Santa Rosa POA
LDF is a valuable resource that no law enforcement officer should be without.
- Brendan Dolan Milwaukee PA
Everything went very smooth and they handled everything! Thank you.
- Stacey Bonilla San Mateo County DSA
[My Represenative] is an excellent attorney. He is very professional yet personable and I would definitely use him again. Thank you!
- Oliver Sansen Concord POA
In 14 years I have never had to deal with an "IA." [My representative] was wonderful & put my mind at ease throughout the entire process. Thank you!
- Juan Pascua, Jr. San Diego Co DSA
Very helpful and very informative!
- 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!
- Nicholas Belliveau Sebastopol POA
High quality service, proficient, well informed. Overall, very happy with experience.
- Gregory Carbett Ontario POA
The attorney assigned to my case was GREAT! It's sad, but it's impossible to be an officer in today's world without a defense fund like PORAC LDF. I am now retired and signed up for the retired officers CCW LDF. Thanks!
- Stephanie Haas Lyon Co SEA
When I first contacted LDF re: my case I was unsure of how well/poor I'd actually be represented. I was impressed beyond belief. From the timely responses from my attorney, his knowledge in my case, advising me what my rights were and where I stood. I felt like I was genuinely being protected from unwarranted and unfounded accusations and believe, as long as I am in the right, I have someone fighting for me. Thank you, Thank you.
- Keith Braden Los Angeles School Police Mgmt Assn
Great work, no complaints.
- Ken Burbank Shasta Co DSA
[ My representative ] was professional, articulate and prepared, but most importantly he understood the emotional impact the investigation was having on me as a person and peace officer. I highly recommend [my representative].
- Albert Contreas Imperial Co. DSA
Thank you for your services.
- Jay Garacochea Culver City POA
[My representative] not only did he do a great job but he listened to my concerns. He did not force his views or game plan and we worked well w/ each other. We agreed on a goal and achieved it.
- Martha Tschetter Carson City Sheriffs PA
The LDF process was painless and I was able to get immediate representation in an urgent time of need. Thank you LDF
- Jason Kearsing Elk Grove POA
Very happy with LDF.
- 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.
- James Beckman Miracosta College POA
Excellent service everytime.
- Christopher Wirth A F G E Border Patrol
LDF referred me to [ representative ] in Spokane, WA. [ Representative ] did an outstanding job representing me. Thank you very much for the referral ! I would not be employed any longer had it not been for [ representative ] and his legal team.”
- David Heller Yolo County DSA
The charges against me, if sustained, would have likely ended my LE career. I was rightfully exonerated on all charges. I was well represented by [My Representative] and thank him for a job well done!!
- Jorge Garcia San Joaquin Co Corr Officers
No criticism to give. Very well.
- Brent Teasley ERS/Reno PSAEA
[ My representative ] was bogged down with multiple cases when he represented me, but I feel he did an excellent job. I would not have wanted anyone else to represent me during a very troublesome time.
- Andrea Salas Sonoma County DSA
[My Representative] was great! Thank you.
- Dwayne Sue Oakland POA
[My representative was] great! She kept me informed and was very professional. She would be my choice if I should need her services in the future! (But I hope I won't) Thanks!
- Cathleen Weldon Siskiyou Correctional POA
Very Comforting to have a knowledgeable person looking out for my best inerests. Thx!
- Anthony Zack Vernon POA
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.
- Jeff Stanley Upland POA
Excellent program, no one should be without this coverage.
- James Stephenson Petaluma POA
Outstanding service. Thanks.
- Evelyn Hooks Shasta CO PPOA
Thank God for the L.D.F.
- 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.
- Andrew J. Brice Santa Maria POA
As always... an excellent result.
- Robin Gonzalez Yolo Co. DSA
[My representative was] very quick to respond, helpful and professional. Thank you!
- 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.
- Ricky L. Hemphill Los Angeles School PA
[My representative] was an excellent lawyer.
- German Alvarez Anaheim PA
[My representative ] was great!
- Brad Young Oakland POA
[My representative] is an excellent attorney and I am very happy he picks up the phone and answers my questions whenever possible.
- 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].
- 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!
- Eric Olson Escondido POA
You guys did an amazing job! Thank you L.D.F. !
- Robert Curato Anderson POA
He did a great job for me!!! He always returned my phone calls within 24-hours. He showed an interest in my case and we were able to get the issue resolved in less than 45 minutes. Thank you for being there when I needed the legal assistance.
- Kristen Patterson Contra Costa Co Prob. Assn.
[My representative] was helpful and made me feel supported. I got the results I desired. Very pleased with the process.
- Joseph Barrett LA Airport POA
I was very well represented by a professional. I felt well represented and got great advice.
- Paul Figueroa Oakland POA
LDF was there when I needed them!! In this litigious world, it's nice to know LDF has GREAT lawyers on our side who look out for us!! [My Representative] is a great attorney and a person I would trust in any circumstance!!!