A California Court of Appeal has affirmed a lower court's decision to award George Jaramillo nearly $529,000 in backpay and lawyer fees because the former Orange County assistant sheriff's 2004 firing blatantly violated the state's peace officer's bill of rights (POBRA).
Jaramillo, once the cocky second in command at the Orange County Sheriff's Department and a close pal to disgraced Sheriff Mike Carona, recently emerged from federal prison following corruption convictions.
The appellate ruling announced today in Santa Ana firmly rejected claims by Orange County's lawyers that Jaramillo wasn't entitled to any money because he is a convicted felon.
How dismal was the county's case argued by David D. Lawrence and Jin S. Choi? A three-justice panel lead by William Rylaarsdam, who wrote the colorful opinion, ordered the county to pay Jaramillo's lawyer fees for the appeal too.
The opinion tersely called the county's position “unpersuasive.” Jaramillo was clearly entitled to an administrative hearing and other POBRA rights prior to being fired, according to the justices. The county (and Carona) maintained that Carona could fire any assistant sheriff “at will” and without reason.
But will Jaramillo actually get the money ($184,000 in backpay and $345,000 in lawyer fees)?
In 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford
ordered that Jaramillo wasn't entitled to any funds if he won his civil
lawsuit against the county for violating the POBRA. Guilford's
reasoning? Jaramillo had abused his powerful public office for illegal
financial gain. But earlier this year, a federal appeals court panel tossed out
that conviction, voided the judge's related restitution order and sent
the case back for final resolution.
Guilford has scheduled a Nov. 14 hearing.
anyone has forgotten the degree of corruption at the OSCD under Carona
and Jaramillo, read Rylaarsdam's published opinion (G043142 & G043813). It's a good, brief summary of
Carona, once a potential U.S. Senate candidate from Orange County, is serving a 5.5-year federal prison sentence.
He was eventually replaced by Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, a former high-ranking member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
–R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; won inclusion in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting for his coverage of a white supremacist’s senseless murder of a beloved Vietnamese refugee; launched multi-year probes that resulted in the FBI arrests and convictions of the top three ranking members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; and gained praise from New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.