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Home News Latest Supervisors approve final contract with sheriff’s attorney

Supervisors approve final contract with sheriff’s attorney

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LAKEPORT, Calif. – On Tuesday the Board of Supervisors approved a final contract with a Southern California law firm that will represent the sheriff in response to an investigation into allegations that he lied about a shooting incident he was involved in while a deputy.

In a 4-1 vote, with Board Chair Rob Brown voting no, the board approved the contract with Jones & Mayer of Fullerton, with a cap of $6,500, for legal representation for Sheriff Frank Rivero.

District Attorney Don Anderson is considering whether or not to give Rivero a “Brady letter” in connection with a February 2008 shooting in which he shot at – but did not hit – a man holding pepper spray.

It’s alleged that Rivero lied to investigators about the incident, which Anderson investigated after taking office last year.

Based on case law that developed from the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brady v. Maryland, prosecutors cannot withhold potentially exculpatory information from the criminal defendants. That includes the requirement that they divulge any credibility issues of law enforcement officers involved in criminal cases.

In March, the board refused to hire Rivero an attorney to respond to Anderson’s investigation, instead wanting County Counsel Anita Grant – who had declared a conflict – to explore erecting an ethical wall in her department so one of her staffers could represent him.

Last month a visiting judge gave Rivero a writ of mandate to force the board to pay for his legal expenses in the case based on Government Code Section 31000.6, which says the board “shall contract with and employ legal counsel to assist the assessor or the sheriff in the performance of his or her duties in any case where the county counsel or the district attorney would have a conflict of interest in representing the assessor or the sheriff.”

Anderson, who has been waiting for the situation to be resolved so he can make a finding, is due to meet with Jones & Mayer on Oct. 9, with a decision expected the following day, Grant told the board Tuesday.

Last week, the board had asked Grant to write a letter to Anderson asking him to expedite his decision. Brown said he still wanted that letter sent to Anderson.

The letter to Anderson Grant drafted acknowledges that the decision is “solely within your purview as the District Attorney and this Board does not intend to intrude in any way in that process. We do, however, want you to be aware that it would be a great service to the County and our residents if you proceed with this matter as expeditiously as possible.”

“Basically, this is a public defender for the sheriff,” Brown said during Tuesday’s meeting, explaining that he wanted to make sure Rivero’s calls and communication with the law firm are kept to a minimum and relevant to the case.

“We have a real problem here. We have a sheriff who spends more time in court that Lindsay Lohan,” said Brown, adding that he doesn’t want Rivero gathering information for other cases.

Grant said the contract is limited to this case alone, and Jones & Mayer is ethically constrained to adhere to it.

“We're all doing this holding our noses,” said Brown. “I can't support this.”

Supervisor Jim Comstock wanted to know what programs in the county wouldn’t happen due to spending the money on the attorney’s contract.

Grant said the funds will come from the Local Assistance for Rural and Small County Law Enforcement fund. “I think there’s a very healthy amount of money in there.”

Supervisor Anthony Farrington asked if the county would have to provide legal counsel beyond Anderson’s decision if Rivero doesn’t like it.

“Where does this end?” asked Farrington, who wanted to know how far it could go under the state statute.

Grant said that just because a person wants to take something to court doesn’t mean they have the legal basis to do so. She added that the courts give great weight to Brady decisions.

While the case could go to the superior court and beyond, she said attorneys have ethical obligations not to pursue legal actions that are not legally sound. That doesn’t mean the client will take the advice.

“At this point I think there is not a foregone conclusion,” said Grant, who added that she believed Anderson will have a fair and open process.

She said that to pursue the cause further, it will need to be proven that it’s a reasonable and justifiable use of funds. Community members also will have to agree. “Those decisions are made at the ballot box,” Grant said.

Farrington moved to approve the agreement, which passed 4-1, with Brown the dissenting vote. Two motions that followed – one to approve the letter to Anderson and the second to approve a resolution to appropriate the money – each passed 5-0.

Email Elizabeth Larson at elarson@lakeconews.com .

092512 Board of Supervisors - Sheriff's Attorney Contract
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Comments (8)Add Comment
jmadison
By the way
written by jmadison, September 26, 2012
Although Rivero may be the problem, Anderson is the reason why we are being asked to fund this and Rob Brown is sucking up to him. Wouldn't it better if we just found a way to keep Rivero in his office? He may even agree to that. Then we replace him at the next legal opportunity.
jmadison
The Money
written by jmadison, September 26, 2012
So what can WE the people do? Can we cut off funding through the BOS? Do we really have to fire the BOS? Why can't we fire Rivero and Anderson? Maybe we just need a mass protest in front of the court house. When is the next court date and who wants to kick off the fun? I'll be there.
ca215
If I were included in the voir dire...
written by ca215, September 26, 2012
and the Selected Sheriff who apparently gets such a low amount-pay check that he cannot afford to pay his own attorney, when questioned by the defendants' and plaintiffs' attorneys I would carefully look at Senor Rivero and say something along the lines of "Hmm, he may or may not be guilty in this particular instance, but he certainly looks guilty to me" and the hurricane force winds of my being excused would make Hurricane Katrina look like a Spring breeze.

It's enraging that County officials are catered to, coddled, provided with free representation regardless of the unknown number of digits in their pay checks while we who are stuck with being poor must either go into endless debt or accept a public defender who might have had all of five minutes to scan over the details of our being charged with whatever....and NEVER got a chance to speak to us...there is something seriously wrong with this set-up.
Shadow
...
written by a guest, September 26, 2012
Maybe we need to really shake things up and vote in a new B.O.S.?
Shadow
my opinion
written by a guest, September 26, 2012
Is that these 2 men have been allowed to make a mockery out of our system. It's a fight that these two should take out on some backroad somewhere and get it out. They are both using and abusing our tax dollars, money that should be used to fight crime. If he is given the brady letter then I imagine his San Francisco lawyers will spend more of out money to fight that. He doesn't have enough respect to at least use local lawyers, he has sued so many people, if anyone doesn't believe he will us then you are living in a dream world.
And Don Anderson it feels like a personal vendetta, I think they both need to go, neither one has delivered on their promises and we all look backwoods due to their actions.
jmadison
BS
written by jmadison, September 26, 2012
Is this really worth our money?? Get both Rivero and Anderson OUT!! NOW! This is such BS. Forget the Brady Letter, Rivero will never be re elected anyway...and niether will Anderson because we know this is a personal vendetta using our money and not his own.
Maybe we nee to end this socialized legal system. Keep my money from going to all the lawyers that our profitting here.
justsayin
Brady Letter or Not
written by a guest, September 26, 2012
I don't believe anything that Rivero says and as a Juror i would have to tell the Court at Jury Selection
Shadow
elected officals
written by a guest, September 26, 2012
They are elected officials, they need to go. Remember this at the next election and what they are both costing our County, let's vote them out

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