As a resident of Middletown, I am directing these comments to my district supervisor, Jim Comstock, but I feel compelled to address all five Board of Supervisors members. Unfortunately my work schedule does not afford me the opportunity as a citizen to provide direct input to the board during their regularly scheduled meetings so this will have to suffice.
Sheriff Rivero has requested to be represented by a private attorney regarding his conflict with the district attorney, a conflict I believe is wholly caused by Sheriff Rivero's loose relationship with the truth, but that's a matter for another time. His request will create a de facto blank check for whatever attorney he decides to represent him.
It is well documented that Sheriff Rivero has a litigious past, and if he is to be taken at his word, maintains a relationship with a San Francisco-based legal firm which would likely be the recipient of the “blank check.”
Were he to choose this particular firm, a legal firm whose chief attorney was a supporter of his in the past election, the appearance of impropriety would be so strong that I think many would believe that this conflict was created by Sheriff Rivero as a way to funnel money to this legal firm, either as a form of payback for their support in the past election or for his past law suits. I think the only way to avoid this appearance is for the board to deny Sheriff Rivero's request.
I believe this conflict stems from actions he took prior to his election to the office of sheriff, at a time when he was, or could have been, covered by a legal defense fund through the Deputy Sheriff's Association.
After his election to the office of sheriff he was still eligible to purchase coverage from the legal defense fund if he chose to. This legal defense fund covers all criminal investigations and any work related disciplinary actions with the exception of Brady issues.
Be that as it may, his lack of prior planning and the actions he took before he was elected should not be covered by my tax dollars, especially if it relates to him being dishonest.
Instead, the Government Code Section he is requesting representation under has an alternative resolution should his request be denied by the board.
Under Government Code Section 31000.6(b), Sheriff Rivero is entitled to an ex parte review of his request by a superior court judge. It is my opinion that such a review is the only way to be sure that we are legally and ethically required to expend taxpayer money for what essentially amounts to a private attorney.
Should the board be inclined to grant his request, I would urge them to consider requiring the attorney to be a local one, thereby keeping taxpayer money local, or at a minimum require him to use a law firm with which he does not have a previous or existing relationship.
I would like to add that if this request is related – as I believe it is – to the reports in the news media and Internet blogs that Sheriff Rivero is potentially receiving a “Brady” letter from the district attorney, it would be frivolous to pay an attorney to try to intervene at all.
The district attorney has a duty and a responsibility pursuant to the United States Supreme Court Decision in Brady vs. Maryland to disclose information on any witness who might testify in any matter if that information directly relates to their credibility.
It should also be noted that the district attorney has complete discretion and immunity in this area, so the sheriff obtaining a writ of mandate as he said he would in the previous Board of Supervisors meeting to stop the district attorney from doing what he is required to do under the law would be very unlikely.
Patrick McMahon lives in Middletown, Calif.