Former Mono County employee Dick Luman was in court on Thursday, May 30. Luman served as a Mechanic for Mono County for more than 15 years. On Oct. 3, 2011 he and Road Operations Supervisor Brett McCurry got into an altercation which led to the firing of both men for workplace violence, as well as the suspension of a third employee, Jim Kerby.
Both Luman and McCurry were granted Personnel Appeals Board (PAB) hearings last year. Luman held his in public while McCurry held his in private. It is each individual’s personal choice to hold a public or private hearing. Luman’s firing was upheld by his PAB, while McCurry was reinstated.
Recently, Luman filed a Petition for Writ of Administrative Mandamus with the Mono County Superior Court, which according to his legal counsel Katie Bellomo challenges a government agency’s action. Through the Petition, Luman is asking for a review of the Personnel Appeals Board’s decision in his case by a judge, in this case the presiding Judge Stan Eller.
“The Mono County personnel rules provide that it’s [the Petition] the remedy,” Bellomo explained to The Sheet. “We have alleged a number of bases points including procedural due process and bias of two of the PAB members. We want the judge to look at the record and decide for himself what happened.”
The Petition originally included Luman’s PAB, made up of former Mono County Supervisor Tim Hansen, current Mono County Sheriff Ralph Obenberger (then Undersheriff) and County employee Ken Goode, Mono County, the Mono County Board of Supervisors and former County CAO Jim Arkens. However, Arkens and the Board of Supervisors have since been struck from the Petition.
The Petition does not make accusations, according to Bellomo, it just questions the procedural fairness. There is no criticism for anyone in particular, but the Petition has to name the people with the power to do what the petitioner is asking be done. In this case, one scenario is asking the judge to reinstate Luman with back pay. Mono County can carry this out, which is why it remains named in the Petition.
On May 30, Luman and Bellomo, as well as Mono County counsel representative John Vallejo gathered in the courtroom of Judge Eller to determine if a transcript of the entire PAB proceeding from last year needed to be transcribed for the court hearing. A court recorder was not present during the PAB hearing. The estimated length of the proceedings is 55 hours of tape recorder over the 11 days of the hearing.
Bellomo did not believe that the entire record needed to be transcribed, not only because many of the hours would have no bearing on the Court’s decision, but also because of the potential for Luman to be charged by the County for the cost of the transcription. Bellomo also questioned the County’s need to have County Clerk Lynda Roberts listen to all the tapes to compare them to the transcript the court reporter would create in order to certify the transcript.
“I don’t think this needs to be done,” Bellomo said, adding that it would be an additional cost to her client.
Vallejo, however, felt it would be more cost efficient to produce the transcript in its entirety and have it certified by Roberts. “Otherwise my office is going to have to keep going back to the tapes for verification.”
Eller said it was really up to the County and he would not micromanage.
“I’ll do what the County wants,” he said. “It may be costly and time consuming, but that’s what we’re dealing with.”
The group will meet again on July 18 for a status update on the transcript and its certification. Technically, the County has 190 days to complete the transcript process.