Beaumont Police Corporal Vindicated
Scot Davis was excited and looking forward to the upcoming birth of his child. In preparation, he attempted to make sure his work affairs were in order, including letting the Beaumont Police Department’s subpoena clerk know he would soon be out on FMLA leave. He informed her that there might be an issue with some upcoming court subpoenas, and to file what are commonly known as “1050 forms” to let the Deputy District Attorneys and the court know that he’d be out on leave. At the time of these events, Davis was serving in the capacity of Police Corporal and Detective. In the 15 years he had been an officer, and in the time he has been with the Beaumont Police Department, he had excelled as a corporal, the rank he was hired in, having transferred laterally from the Sheriff’s Department. A review of his personnel file showed no discipline whatsoever.
The nature of the matter that brought Scot Davis before an arbitrator stemmed from a subpoena for a preliminary hearing set for June 17, 2011. Cpl. Davis was a witness in that case, albeit, someone who was not the primary officer or “case agent.” Prior to the court date, he consulted with the Department’s subpoena clerk regarding the filing of the “1050 form” (referring to Penal Code section 1050, the code section dealing with good cause for a continuance) to alert the court and the District Attorney’s Office that it was his intention to be on FMLA leave at that time due to the anticipated delivery of his baby. The steps Cpl. Davis took to notify the subpoena clerk were consistent with the past practice of the Department and the officers in that Department. He was advised by the subpoena clerk that the subpoenas and important notifications would be taken care of, as such was the nature of her job.
Cpl. Davis’ child was born eight (8) days early and he immediately went out on FMLA leave. Cpl. Davis notified his immediate supervisor of the event. Unfortunately, due to an oversight, the subpoena clerk Davis had communicated with failed to notify the Deputy District Attorney assigned to the preliminary hearing when requested by Cpl. Davis. On the morning of the hearing, June 17th, the assigned Deputy District Attorney called Cpl. Davis’ sergeant looking for Cpl .Davis. When notified he was needed in court, he attempted to contact the Deputy District Attorney through the case agent that was in court because the DDA was not in his office (he was already in court), and Cpl. Davis did not have his cell phone number. Ultimately, Cpl. Davis made it to court, albeit late. He, along with other witnesses, waited in court until after 3 p.m. and did not testify that day. Instead, he testified the next date of the hearing, July 22, 2011.
At the time Cpl. Davis was notified by his sergeant that he was needed immediately in court, he was quite confused due to his belief and good faith reliance that the subpoena clerk had taken care of the matter, as advised, and as customary. Further, he had just before that phone call, been informed that his son had a serious issue at his school that needed immediate attention and to which he was en route. Cpl. Davis endeavored to explain this very stressful situation to his sergeant, who didn’t want to hear it. Cpl. Davis got off the phone with his sergeant, and continued preparations to leave his residence. Cpl. Davis, en route to court in southwest Murrieta from Beaumont, stopped at his son’s school, had a short conversation with the administration, and resumed his travel to the courthouse, all the while maintaining contact with another witness, the case agent, a corporal from his Department, to inform him of his status and that he was en route and to let the DDA know.
As a result of these events, Cpl. Davis was alleged to have violated Department subpoena policies and was accused of poor judgment in dealing with his sergeant, the DDA and in stopping to address his son’s scholastic emergency. Davis sought the legal services of Partner Kasey Castillo. After the Skelly, the Chief dismissed the violations pertaining to the subpoena policy, but sustained the allegations of poor judgment. Although his work performance was never in question and he had no prior discipline, Davis was removed from his Detective assignment, given a suspension of 40 hours (to be aggregated to any other new discipline) and had his corporal stripes removed, with the caveat that he could potentially earn them back in six months if the Chief believed he was again acting like a corporal.
Not surprisingly, this case went to mediation, and then arbitration. In front of a neutral arbitrator, it was determined that the City (representing the Police Department) failed to present credible evidence as to each and every remaining charge. Scot Davis was reinstated to the position of police corporal at the Beaumont Police Department, the suspension also overturned.