Thursday, December 14, 2006


Albin-Sheets vs. County of Humboldt underway

The ER is providing some coverage. Gloria Albin-Sheets has hired counsel from Santa Rosa while the county is represented by John Vrieze, and is being tried in front of visiting judge Conrad Cox, who came up from Mendocino.

The article summarizes some of the testimony from Albin-Sheets and Gallegos, who claims she was laid off due to the loss of grant funds. The article quotes from Gallegos' testimony as follows:
“I regret to inform you that due to budget cuts and grant reductions, your employment with the office is terminated,” Gallegos read from the termination letter he sent Sheets.

In 2003, he said approximately 60 percent of the funding for the District Attorney’s Office was paid for by grants.

At the point of Sheets’ termination, Gallegos said the grants were either lost or would be soon.

“I know the decisions I made at the time were based on the information I had at the time,” he said.

Had the grants not been lost, Gallegos said Sheets would not have been terminated when she was, although he said he could not say what would have happened in the long term.

Gallegos said it was also important to note the difference between terminating employment and firing, especially in this situation. “(If I fired you), I would have asked you to leave, even if I had all the money in the world,” he said. “Termination means I don’t have the money, ‘Sorry, you have to go.’”
Where I'm confused is whether it makes any difference why she was terminated. One of the controversies around Gallegos' office is that he's maintained an "at will" employment system despite earlier suggestions that he would abandon it. Basically, it means she can be fired for any reason except for an unlawful reason, such as her race, sex, etc. The article references her worker's comp status. Is she alleging that she was fired because of her injury? That would be wrongful, but if the jury is convinced that she was fired for political reasons then I don't get her case. The article is silent on her theory.

Not that you necessarily need a theory. I've been told about a case in which the plaintiff rested his case and in the hallway the defense attorney came up to plaintiff's counsel and said "what the Hell is your theory of the case?!!" Plaintiff's counsel responded "my theory is that you're going to fuck up." As the story goes, the defense did indeed fuck up.

Hmmm. No TS coverage of the trial?

Awesome story! Was this supposed to have happened in Humboldt County, or is it a standard bit of legal apocrypha?
Hmmm, didn't the DA publicly state that he was deliberately shedding grants?
Where's Rose?
Hank - it's a legend that's told at every plaintiff's bar seminar. There's a name attached to it, but it's not a name I know readily. Probably one of those stories that was true at one time, but has probably lost its truth having been told so many times.

Anon 12:16 - I don't know, but again, in an at-will relationship that would be irrelevant.

Anon 1:19 - Haven't been over to her site, but I imagine there's probably something about the lawsuit there. Maybe she's attending the trial.
It's not irrelevant if he's lying and by lying is, according to the
jury instructions I have seen,
admitting consciousness of guilt as to why he really fired her if he
fired her for an impermissible reason. Like being an older, handicapped female. Or female.
Or older. Or handicapped.

Moreover, as Detective Gainey teaches us, perjury is pretty much always relevant to something. So it may not matter to you if the
DA lies on the stand because it's not relevant who he fires or why, but it might matter to someone else.

And again, it's relevant. See above.

Where did you get your law degree?

At will status does not protect somebody for firing/terminating an employee for an impermissible reason, e.g., the employee complained about a boss's sexual harassment and the employee was terminated after, or the employee was terminated because of a physical disability.
Anon 3:12 - Where did you learn to read? I said that.
Yes. I am attending the trial.
Ok....let me say up front I am not an attorney but, if she can demonstrate that she was terminated for non merit factors, wouldn't that be persuasive? Age and gender discrimination would first go to EEOC. Has she gotten a 'right to sue' letter?

If if she is claiming discrimination on the basis of filing a comp case (I forget the Labor Code section), wouldn't that ultimately go to the WCAB?...or on the basis of a disability, a private lawsuit on an ADA claim (Where is Jason Singleton when we need him?)

So what she's left with is having to prove that she was cut loose for political reasons or that he just didn't like her. If so, her performance record will be key.

So that I'm clear....I am not trying to flatter myself but, am curious as to what you all think the case theory might be.
Just to be clear, and notwithstanding what either side argues, if the jury decides she was fired for her politics, she loses.
Are politics a merit factor?
Perhaps one is far less interested in the jury verdict than in the "memory" of the
elected DA. I guess you could say
I "grant" you the point.
"The article references her worker's comp status. Is she alleging that she was fired because of her injury?"

Yes. Hence the irrelevance of the at will status.
Well, it's not irrelevent because if Vrieze is clever he's dug up any statements that Albin-Sheets might have made suggesting that the firing was political. I seem to remember statements to that effect, but I may be confusing her with Allison Jackson.

Under the "at-will" status, "political" is acceptable under the law. This means that Albin-Sheets, if her attorney knows what he's doing, will minimalize the political differences between them.

He could fire her for no reason at all. But if he had a reason, it had to be lawful. The fact that she was out on WC disability alone won't be enough. She's got to have some evidence of his intent. I assume that in a trial of two weeks they're going to have something to talk about. So far it must not be very interesting as Rose hasn't posted about it.
Boy, this article sure brings back memories!
Well, I googled as many of the old recall articles as I could find. Either Albin-Sheets does not believe she was fired for political reasons, or she was very careful not to frame her thoughts about it.
The old we 'lost' grant funding and the latent excuse that PG was trying to wean the office away from grants was a blatant lie rather than a weak excuse. Paul didn't have a clue on how to file for grant funding-it would have been nice if he'd left someone in the office who still did that kind of thing just for laughs...

What reason would any DA have for losing funding without an alternate source of revenue to proceed with those cases? Very irresponsible and yes Rose is posting as the court transcripts become available. Watch. Listen. Learn.
The firm representing Gags isn't going to fuck up but his case is already fucked by the defendant himself:Paul Gallegos.

Wait for the testimony-parts are not suitable for young audiences.
Gag's F'ing up ? No ! Tell me it's not so! Isn't he the man? The Folk hero that, along with his trusty sidekick Tim JONESTOWN Stoen, took on the Evil Palco? That same mediocre lawyer?

What do you expect? And I doubt if a good law firm can save him from himself. The BIG question ???? How much is this F-up costing the county ?
We asked the community to decide if they wanted a politician or a prosecutor.

So much for the "public" process.

Where is Worth when we need him. get what you pay for and the price tag on this one is going to be huge.

Maybe Salzman will break out his checkbook, since he started this class war.

Not holding the breath on that one. And I am not an apologist for PL...they are equally culpable....cranking up the class war to monumental proportions.
How much is this F-up costing the county ?

Paul's lawfirm in this case, Mitchell Brisso, have reaped the benefit of county "F-ups" for years. Talk about the gravy train.

Pepper spray, anyone?
They've actually done quite well for the county over the years. Usually it's Nancy Delaney defending the county though. I wonder why John V.'s handling this one.
And Nancy Delaney is a class act.

one of only a few
I suspect what you're really looking at is a referendum on at will status for DDA's, and toss in a little
second guessing of decisions made at the polls regarding the competence and probity of the elected DA.

Rose's comments about the quality of testimony, if believable, suggests that the testimony sounds like the
NC Journal election coverage-- staff good, boss not so good.

Was he asked in court "Wait a minute, buddy, didn't you
say on the radio you were deliberately getting rid of the money from grants? And doesnt that mean you were
deliberately getting rid of attorneys whose jobs depended on those grants? So if you assingned a lawyer to a grant position, then let the grant go on purpose, then the decision which attorney to assign to the grant was really a sneaky way to fire someone, wasnt it?

Does the DA hang out with any one sneaky? Is the DA sneaky?
Sneaky ? The DA hangs out with Ken Miller, Richard Salzman, Russ Clanton ! Does that answer your question?
And Nancy Delaney is a class act.

I've been told that she was actually the first woman to practice law in Humboldt County, though I find that hard to believe. Although her politics are more conservative than mine and she probably has different ideas about how to handle sexual discrimination on a political level - I'll bet she has plenty of stories about sexism in the local bar.

In any case, I agree. She's a class act.
And did we all give her credit for being a class act when she was defending the Pepper Spray case? Probably not.
Ok...I wrote the original "class act" comment.

That's based on personal experience with my business.

The 'pepper spray' case was (in the vernacular) a slam dunk loser from the beginning. It was amazing that it didn't produce huge settlement offers. Hey pal...she did her job. The problem there was the local law enforcement decision makers forgot or failed to consider that the application of pepper spray is, by definition, a use of force. Force can only be used to counter force, except when there is a threat to life or a demonstrable risk to the public.

The 'protesters' came to get headlines and sympathy, and wow, they got both in spades. Gift-wrapped and delivered by the police admin. Huge tactical error.

That's the case Nancy inherited. Yep....she's a class act. She played the cards she got and, at the end of the day, saved the County a lot of money.

If you choose to be a martyr for the cause, you might just have to accept the consequences.
actually pepper spray can be considered pain compliance and that is authorized when force is
passive, such as blocking admission to abortion clinics
(San Diego got away with using a pain compliance hold that broke bones, guess saving babies is
bad, saving trees is good). the
ONLY mistake the cops made in the
pepper spray case was videotaping.

The protesters were miles ahead of the cops on how to manipulate media. If the cops hadn't handed them the chance to ham it up on camera, there would have been no case.
Nancy=class act and is not touching Gag's debaucle with a ten foot pole. Hmmm....
It's hard for many laypeople to understand, but as as attorneys our job isn't to make judgments about the character of our clients or even the case. Our job is to advocate. We leave the judging to those in the system designated for that purpose. If you're on retainer for the county, you represent their interests. Sometimes you represent the side in the right, sometimes you don't.

The issue is whether you do it fairly and ethically.

ethically. ethicly.

Hmmmm. No time for a dictionary.
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