WILLIAM J. HADDEN
Silver, Hadden, Silver, Wexler & Levine
As the director of the Ben Clark Training Center and the law enforcement liaison for Riverside Community College, Sergeant Jon Wade was a busy man. It was not unusual for him to work up to 70 hours per week while claiming only 40, since overtime was frowned upon, and he was more concerned with making things run smoothly than with his personal remuneration. On at least three occasions, he received commendations for “dedicating his time” without pay in order to supervise Academy class functions. He took pride in knowing that his dedication was appreciated by his superiors — or so he thought.
For many employees at the agency, the filling out of a time card can be a simple and routine matter. Absent an occasional adjustment for overtime or leave requests, work schedules may vary little from week to week. For Wade, there was no such thing as a routine schedule, as he would be frequently tasked with impromptu teaching assignments that altered whether his time should have been charged to the Sheriff’s Department or RCC. Over a two-year period, Wade was forced to make over 250 adjustments to his “regular schedule” in attempts to make sure that there was no overlap for the time worked for the two entities. In 2010, he discovered that he had inadvertently erred on a few of those entries.
Immediately thereafter, he audited his time for the previous year, reported the errors (not all of which were even to the Department’s detriment) to management and made the appropriate changes to his leave banks. Given the relatively small amount of money at issue, Wade’s unblemished past record with the agency, the obvious complications attendant to his timekeeping and the self-reporting of his mistakes immediately upon discovery, Sergeant Wade expected a modest disciplinary response.
Instead, he found himself ordered to immediately clean out his office by a captain whose son had quit the Academy run by Wade just a few weeks before. Wade was refused any assistance in packing, all the while under the watchful eye of a lieutenant, as the rest of the Academy stood by. The captain insisted that he be a part of walking Wade off the job, and placed him on administrative leave. His crusade against Wade knew no bounds, as he injected himself to serve as an investigator, witness, accuser and reviewer in the disciplinary process, convinced before any investigation that Wade had “double-dipped” and was therefore a thief.
A fair investigation, Wade thought, would show that his mistakes were innocently made and negate any possible inference of the theft allegation being propounded by his captain. In fact, he was correct. The internal affairs unit made specific findings that the theft allegation was “unfounded.” Stuck with the written conclusions of its own staff that Wade’s worst offense was negligently messing up a few time cards — which, according to the Department’s own disciplinary matrix, should result in discipline as minor as a letter of reprimand — the administration nonetheless proposed a preposterous 160-hour suspension for a 10-year employee without any prior discipline.
The Skelly hearing with a chief deputy was entirely fruitless. Despite Wade’s complete acceptance of responsibility from the outset, the chief deputy showed no tolerance for reducing the discipline and instead encouraged Wade to just accept the 160 hours, as it “would only be a small bump in the road” in Wade’s career, noting that “We’re not a bunch of elephants that never forget, not like it used to be here.”
When it was brought to his attention that the proposed action was grossly inconsistent with the Department’s own matrix, but that it was perfectly consistent with an action initiated by the captain for personal reasons, the chief deputy by his own admission became upset and offended, yet he still failed to explain how the severity of the discipline was justified within the promulgated standards.
Despite the purported mentality of forgiveness espoused by the chief deputy, over the next two years, while awaiting his arbitration hearing, Wade was passed over seven times for a promotion to lieutenant and denied all of his requests for special assignments. During the next promotional process, his “promotability rating” was substantially lowered. His application to attend the Sherman Block Leadership Institute has been denied three times.
The matter proceeded to a three-day hearing before Hearing Officer Michael Prihar, wherein the chief deputy made it emphatically clear what the case was all about. The chief deputy brazenly analogized Wade’s mistakes to criminal behavior, and incredibly maintained that Wade should be disciplined according to the matrix sections related thereto. In essence, he made it clear that the administration from the very start assumed that Wade was a thief, and that no facts or internal affairs factual findings to the contrary would ever change that initial conclusion. Unmistakably, this case was not “just business,” but instead intensely personal.
The hearing officer found no just cause to support the suspension, and determined that based on Wade’s exemplary record, as well as the Department’s own findings and standards, only a reprimand was appropriate, which Wade maintained he deserved all along. Wade was accordingly awarded all lost wages and benefits. The Department has since announced that it will not appeal.
It is a great irony that so many of the Department’s purported core values of fairness, consistency and adherence to policies were completely ignored in the imposition of this oppressive action. Perhaps the Department could actually use a few more elephants, those with meaningful recollections of its own rules and standards, and with the wisdom to properly apply them.
Sergeant Wade was represented at every stage of the investigative and disciplinary process by Bill Hadden of Silver, Hadden, Silver, Wexler & Levine, and supported by the PORAC Legal Defense Fund.
PORAC Legal Defense Administrator Ed Fishman Testimony: Law Enforcement Use of Body Cameras.
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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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- 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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Excellent service, prompt and courteous.
- Heather Fontes San Joaquin Co POA
I appreciated the thorough follow up by LDF staff. Many thanks and blessings for the work by LDF.
- 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.
- Eric White Emeryville POA
Very satisfied with the LDF services provided. Thank you.
- Nestor Hernandez San Diego POA
This is a great program designed to protect LEO’s in need
- 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.
- Andrea Salas Sonoma County DSA
[My Representative] was great! Thank you.
- Robert Glock Oakland POA
I am always satisfied with LDF and all their representatives.
- Tai Pena-Hornung Oakland POA
Those who foolishly feel LDF is not a valuable resource, do so only because they have not yet needed legal representation.
- Kelly K. Roe San Joaquin Co Corr Officers
[My representative] did a fantastic job at returning my phone calls and keeping me informed of any and all information pertaining to my case. I would recommend him to anyone.
- 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].
- Craig Caches Fremont POA
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.
- Doug Plumhoff Ridgecrest PEA
Great job by all! Always great to know LDF is there when needed.
- 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.
- John M. Laser Oceanside POA
[My representative] always took my calls or returned them within hours. Put my mind at ease and kept me well informed. LDF is well served by this law firm!
- Korey Lankow Assn Highway Patrol of Arizona
Outstanding service from bottom-to-top.
- Rachel Tyner Transit EOA of San Diego
All the LDF representatives were very courteous and attentive with a punctual response to all of my concerns, inquiries and appointment scheduling. My representative was very informative about the legalities and kept in contact with me regularly. He was also very patient and straight forward. I would definitely want to use the LDF again and felt more confident through my proceedings because I had representation!
- Jeff Stanley Upland POA
Excellent representation. [My representative] is a great attorney.
- Shaun Luciano LA School PA
LDF assisted by taking a stressful situation and calmed it down by thoroughly explaining the entire process. It was nice to know that I had an ally when I was sure that I was alone.
- Marco Flores Ventura County PPOA
Great program. I was lost until the attorneys explained the situation. I was very impressed and satisfied. Thanks LDF.
- Steven Moorehouse Redding POA
Thank you for your help.
- 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%
- 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.
- Rachael Van Sloten Oakland POA
LDF is absolutely essential to help make a system that is somewhat broken work more effectively. [My Representative] is excellent and takes a great deal of time to lisen and represent.
- Gregg Palmer San Joaquin Co Corr POA
Everything was explained very well prior to my questioning. I was not worried at all during the investigation. Very professional and a great asset to its members.
- Joseph Barrett LA Airport POA
I was very well represented by a professional. I felt well represented and got great advice.
- Jason Boust Sanger POA
My rep was very helpful in explaining the processes and stayed in contact throughout the ordeal.
- 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.
- Roy Iler San Benito CO LEM
[My representative] always returned phone calls and let me know if he was contacted with information.
- Evelyn Hooks Shasta CO PPOA
Thank God for the L.D.F.
- Scott Hamilton San Bernardino Co SEBA
Don't go to work without LDF!
- Tamboura Nettingham Claremont Custody Center EA
My representative was an outstanding rep. I was very fortunate to be represented by her and the firm should be very proud to have her in it. She's courteous, smart and aggressive when needed. I would not ask for anyone else, if any other situation evolved, she's the best. Thanks.
- 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.
- 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.
- Greg Gladson LA Airport POA
[My representative] was very professional and helpful. She kept me informed with my options and the direction of the investigation.
- 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!
- Steven Curtiss Shasta Co DSA
This was my first need for LDF support and I was very happy with the level of service. Thank you.
- 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.”
- Paul Hernandez LA Gen Services POA Inc.
[My Representative] was very helpful in my situation and I can't thank him enough.
- Ron Ruddy Riverside POA
- Gilbert Salazar Montebello POA
Can’t say enough. Both representatives that I had in 2016 were excellent. ( My attorney ) made himself available to me in late night hours, which made me feel comfortable and at ease. This program is essential to us in law enforcement.
- Scot Hicks Humbolt County DSO
My experience was made much less stressful thanks to the LDF representation.
- Christopher Wells Hollister POA
My rep was great.
- Anthony Gregori Sonoma Co Jr College P O A
Excellent work and well worth it.
- 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!
- 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.
- Brad Young Oakland POA
[ My representative ] is an awesome attorney.
- 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!
- Kerry Carlson Midpeninsula Ranger POA
I have held leadership positions in our POA most of my career. Because of my role as President and Vice President I have been a target to management. I feel that if it were not for LDF I wouldn't have a job
- Kim Prout Upland Firefighters Assoc
It was great comfort to know somebody would be there for me in this matter. I was able to finally sleep @ night & wake up with confidence that I would be ok. Thanks.