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Natasha Norris v. State Personnel Board

July 21, 2011

NATASHA NORRIS, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
STATE PERSONNEL BOARD, DEFENDANT; DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION, REAL PARTY IN INTEREST AND RESPONDENT.



Super. Ct. No. 34200880000041CUWMGDS

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Raye , P. J.

Norris v. State Personnel Bd.

CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

The sole issue presented by this appeal is whether the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) termination of Lieutenant Natasha Norris was barred by the one-year statute of limitations set forth in the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act. (Gov. Code, § 3300 et seq.) We affirm the trial court's denial of her petition for a writ of mandate because Norris was terminated "within one year of the public agency's discovery by a person authorized to initiate an investigation of the allegation of an act, omission, or other misconduct." (Gov. Code, § 3304, subd. (d)(1).)

FACTS

Few facts are relevant to the statute of limitations question. On July 30, 2005, an inmate riot broke out in a minimum security area at Folsom State Prison. Sergeant Keeley Stevens responded. He was later assisted by Correctional Officer Shawn Stewart. Appellant Norris was the incident commander.

Stevens and Stewart submitted incident reports between July 30 and August 12. Any rule violation reports (known as a CDC form 115) must be completed and served on any inmates against whom rule violations are alleged within 15 days of the incident. On August 11 or 12, 2005, Norris drafted and signed Stevens's name to six rule violation reports. Stevens testified he did not authorize Norris to write the reports or sign his name, nor did he know she had done so. Norris testified she did so with Stevens's permission and approval of the contents.

On or about August 13, Norris told Stevens, "[B]y the way, you wrote six [CDC form] 115s on that incident at the camp." When Stevens asked her if he was supposed to review the reports and sign them, Norris replied, "[N]o, that is already done."

Correctional Officer Russell Brizendine was assigned to investigate the rule violation reports, and issued them to the inmates. One of the inmates claimed he was not present at the riot and had been wrongly identified. Brizendine testified Stevens told him he had observed the inmate battering another inmate. Stevens testified he told Brizendine he did not write the report.

Brizendine turned his report over to Lieutenant Rick Vickrey for review of the documentation and for a hearing. Vickrey conducted a hearing for the inmate who claimed he was not involved and found him guilty. During that hearing, on or about August 20, Vickrey called Stevens at home and asked him if it was possible he had made a mistake in identifying the inmate. Stevens told Vickrey he did not write the reports; Norris had written and signed them.

Norris, together with her supervisor, determined that Stevens did not respond appropriately because he was unable to identify the inmates he sprayed with pepper spray during the riot. As a result, Stevens was given an employee counseling memo on September 24, 2005. On October 3, 2005, Stevens complained to Captain M. Williams that Norris had prepared and signed the rule violation reports without his knowledge or permission.

On October 25, 2005, Norris received an employee counseling memo based on her preparation of the rule violation reports. She was dismissed from her position effective October 6, 2006, a ...


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