February 2009

Supreme Court Rejects Bright-line Rule Barring Agency Attorneys from Performing Dual Roles in Unrelated Administrative Proceedings

The California Supreme Court ruled Monday that an agency attorney prosecuting a matter before the agency's decision making body may also serve as advice counsel to the decision making body in unrelated matters. The ruling represents a victory for all public agencies that maintain adjudicative processes to resolve disputes. Click here to read more.

In the Absence of CEQA Review, In-Lieu Fee Programs Cannot Presumptively Establish Full Mitigation of Environmental Impacts

The Third Appellate District Court of California held in the case California Native Plant Society v. County of El Dorado, that the payment of a rare plant impact in-lieu fee, which was not reviewed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), does not presumptively establish that the environmental impacts to rare plants for all projects are fully mitigated such that a developer is entitled to a mitigated negative declaration.

If you are interested in learning more, please view the full Meyers Nave legal alert.

Agencies Must Either First Complete CEQA Review or Retain Discretion to Modify or Cancel Contracts Subject to CEQA Until Environmental Review is Complete

The Fourth District Court of Appeal ("Court") recently set aside a water supply agreement between a water district and a developer because the agreement improperly committed the water district to a definite course of action without adequate review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in the case Riverwatch et. at. v. Olivenhain Municipal Water District. Click here to read on.

Court of Appeal Holds Closed Session Communications to be Privileged

The First District Court of Appeal recently issued an unpublished opinion that helps to clarify the privileged nature of closed sessions of a City Council. To read an article discussing this opinion click here.

No Pay for Alleged Pre-Shift Tasks by Police Officers

On February 13, 2009, a federal jury in the Southern District of California unanimously decided that the time that eight San Diego police officers spent performing tasks prior to their shifts was not compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Specifically, the jury determined that the officers had not performed uncompensated work that was "controlled or required by the employer, and pursued necessarily and primarily for the benefit of the employer and its business." The officers contended that department policy requiring them to be ready at roll call meant they had to perform routine tasks, such as loading equipment into their squad cars and checking e-mails and voicemails, before their shifts began. The officers argued that the "police department's culture" and "unspoken policy" discouraged officers from putting in for overtime for these and other tasks. The City maintained that officers were not required to perform these tasks prior to their shifts and that officers were provided time during their shifts to perform the tasks. Indeed testimony reflected that officers performed the tasks early for other reasons, such as claiming a newer squad car. Click here to read more.