Linda Ross

RPLG Partner Linda Ross

RPLG Partner Linda Ross delivered a successful result for the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 5 when the Superior Court of California, County of Sonoma denied Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick’s petition for writ of mandate to require the Board to provide funds for him to challenge Measure P.

Measure P, a county-wide measure that passed with 66.5% of the vote in the Nov. 3 election, provides more resources for and expands the authority of the Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach (IOLERO), the county office that oversees the Sheriff’s Department. Among other changes, IOLERO has increased access to evidence, personnel records and camera footage from body cameras.

Sheriff Essick argued that the measure might interfere with his investigative functions or his ability to fulfill his duties. To explore litigation against the measure, he requested that the County Board of Supervisors authorize him to use $50,000 of the Sheriff’s Department’s budget to hire outside legal counsel, arguing that it would be a conflict of interest for county attorneys to advise him.

The court denied the sheriff’s petition for writ of mandate because Essick based his argument on the possibility that the initiative might interfere with his investigative functions and ability to fulfill his duties, rather than concrete examples of this interference. The court ruled that the sheriff did not meet the burden of proof to show that the County Board of Supervisors needed to appoint outside legal counsel or show that he had a clear right to counsel.

“Measure P’s provisions to increase law enforcement accountability in Sonoma County are solid steps,” said Linda, who served as lead attorney for the respondent. “I am glad to see the court rule in favor of the Board of Supervisors in this case.”

RPLG practices throughout California, advising and advocating for public agencies, nonprofit entities, individuals and private entities in need of effective, responsive and creative legal solutions.