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Earl v. State Personnel Board

California Court of Appeals, Third District, Sacramento

November 13, 2014

BARON R. EARL, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
STATE PERSONNEL BOARD, Defendant and Respondent, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION, Real Party in Interest and Respondent.

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Sacramento County No. 34-2012-80001184-CU-WM-GDS, Timothy M. Frawley, Judge.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

Daniel M. Lindsay and Janice R. Shaw for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Mastagni Holstedt, David E. Mastagni, Isaac S. Stevens, Jeffrey R.A. Edwards, and Ian B. Sangster for Placer County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Sacramento Police Officer’s Association, Sacramento Area Firefighter’s Local 522, Peace Officers Research Association of California and Peace Officers Research Association of California Legal Defense Fund, as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiff and Appellant.

Alvin Gittisriboongul and Heather Glick for Defendant and Respondent.

Stephen A. Jennings for Real Party in Interest and Respondent.

OPINION

DUARTE, J.

Baron R. Earl (Earl), a parole agent, was disciplined by his employer, California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Department) for conducting a purportedly unlawful search of a residence, and after

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an administrative hearing the discipline was upheld by the State Personnel Board (Board). Earl appeals from the trial court’s denial of his administrative mandamus petition, seeking to overturn the Board’s decision. He first contends that his motion to dismiss should have been granted due to lack of timely notice. He next argues that no substantial evidence shows the search was unlawful, adding that because the law applicable to the search was unclear, his conduct--if errant--is unlikely to reoccur. Therefore, he argues, the level of discipline imposed by the Department and later upheld by the Board reflects an abuse of discretion.

Because we agree that notice was untimely, we need not reach Earl’s remaining contentions. We reverse with directions to issue a writ commanding the Board to grant Earl’s motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

Because of the narrowness of our holding, the facts surrounding the search and the subsequent discipline imposed are not relevant.

The parties do not dispute that the Department learned of Earl’s actions during a hearing regarding another employee conducted on May 27, 2009, and “served a Letter of Intent on Earl by certified mail on May 27, 2010, ” notifying him that the investigation was complete and that the “allegations of an improper entry... were sustained.” Earl’s position that this notice was not adequate under the relevant statute was rejected by the Board, which upheld discipline, and the trial court, which denied Earl’s administrative mandamus petition.

Earl timely appealed from ...


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