CDCR’s employee discipline system is a combination of investigative and legal processes that can take several years to resolve. Most bargaining units do not guarantee that a licensed attorney will serve as your representative. Even the ones that do provide an attorney do not guarantee that a licensed attorney will represent you all the way through an appeal before the State Personnel Board. For example, while members of CCPOA enjoy the benefits of an attorney during their interview with the Office of Internal Affairs, CCPOA members are not guaranteed the representation of a CCPOA staff attorney if they decide to appeal a disciplinary action to the SPB! According to CCPOA’s Standard Operating Procedure, members who want to obtain CCPOA legal representation at State Personnel Board hearings must apply for it and receive approval from the union’s Legal Defense Committee or the union’s Legal Defense Review Panel. ”If the committee refuses to grant approval or if the employee desires to do so, he/she may represent himself/herself or retain, at his/her own expense, an attorney for representation.” Furthermore, it is not widely known that “an employee disciplined for off-duty conduct is not eligible for, and will not be considered for, CCPOA legal representation unless the Chapter President petitions for representation.” (CCPOA Weekly Update – January 20, 2012). Unfortunately, most employees do not realize they will be without legal representation during an SPB appeal until it’s too late and they are left with no option other than to spend upwards of $20,000.00 for a private attorney.
Additionally, John Chung Law attorneys offer an unrivaled level of experience and expertise in every phase of the discipline process. Union appointed and privately hired attorneys have never participated in a case conference with the Warden and Department attorneys to discuss why an allegation should or should not be sustained. Nor have they participated in a case conference with the Office of Internal Affairs to discuss how an investigation should be conducted and what agents should focus on. Union attorneys have never participated in a discussion with department attorneys to discuss what factors need to be present to settle a case with the Department when the case is appealed to the SPB. Your union and the attorneys retained by your union play a very important role in other areas not covered by John Chung Law – for example, labor issues, contract negotiations, grievances, and representation during witness interviews. Our mission is not to replace the benefits of your union, but to provide enhanced and supplemental representation in the critical arena of employee discipline.
As a Member of the Program, you will be represented at every critical juncture of the case by an attorney who has years of experience and full familiarity with all of the processes and all of the decision makers so that you can achieve the best outcome possible. That is what we describe as “the John Chung Law difference.”
You only have one shot at protecting your reputation and career when the Department accuses you of misconduct. Don’t take chances and don’t settle for anything less than the best. If you or someone you loved had a life threatening illness and you needed a surgeon, you would never “settle” for the doctor that someone else selected for you. You would seek out and demand the most experienced and most talented doctor you could find. Don’t treat your professional career and your good name with any less care. You deserve the best so you should demand the best.