County wants new judge in Luman case

motiontorecuseDick Luman worked as a mechanic for the Mono County Road Department for 15 years. In late 2011, he was fired for an alleged physical fight with a road operations supervisor. He appealed that termination which was upheld on the grounds that he threatened his supervisor, not that he had a fight with him. Today in Mammoth Lakes Court, Luman’s case for reinstatement was scheduled to go before Judge James Garbolino. However, the hearing was continued until March 26th after the Mono County Counsel’s office filed a motion to recuse the Judge on grounds that Mono can not get a fair hearing before him.

Deputy County Counsel John Vallejo filed the motion to remove Judge Garbolino and to ask that another judge be assigned to the case. Local judges had recused themselves in this case. Mr. Vallejo’s motion says “The Honorable James D. Garbolino, the judge before whom this action is now pending, is prejudiced against the County of Mono, so that the County of Mono cannot, and the undersigned believes it cannot, have a fair and impartial trial or hearing before his Honor.” The motion requests a new judge.

It was Judge Garbolino who heard the County’s motion to reverse arbitration decisions made in the case of former Deputy Jon Madrid. The Judge had ruled strongly in Madrid’s favor and quoted from the record numerous details unfavorable to the County and Sheriff’s officers.

The County Appeals Board back in 2013 included Sheriff Ralph Obenberger, County employee Ken Goode and then Supervisor Tim Hansen who filed a dissenting opinion to go against the termination. He argued that remarks that Luman may have made should not have prompted termination. The other two appeals board members upheld the firing.

Luman’s attorney, Katie Bellomo, filed a writ to overturn the termination. She alleged “prejudicial abuse of discretion” on the part of the County and others. The petition basically said that Mr. Luman was fired for making a wisecrack to his supervisor who was initially fired and then reinstated. The petition says Luman lost wages, benefits, retirement contributions and the right to public employment. The petition asks the Court to reinstate Luman with all pay, benefits, seniority and other considerations.

More on Luman’s case at 9:30am in Mammoth Court on March 26th.


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10 Responses to County wants new judge in Luman case

  1. Hoo Hoo March 13, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    Who does County Counsel work for? You would think Vallejo or Rudolph would/should know the facts by now. Why don’t they stop this charade? How about the Board of Supervisors? Are you awake or what?

  2. Heather March 12, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

    I think I’m beginning to understand the the county’s BOS and legal team. They employ the “kitchen sink” method – we’ll try everything once (or twice, or five times…) in the hopes that not only something (anything) sticks, but also to keep these cases strung along for as long as possible. Word on the street is that at least one supervisor has decided that Madrid, at least, will not be going back to work because he won’t last long enough to see the cases through. I assume he means that Madrid will get tired of it all and go away. (That’s how the county has dealt with these problems in the past, so why won’t it work now, am I right?!) It’s pretty obvious, however, that neither Madrid nor Luman are “going away” and it’s time for county counsel, the Sheriff’s Department and the Board of Supervisors to just deal with these cases in an honest and forthright manner before any more tax money gets wasted. Absolutely ridiculous and shameful. I try to teach my children to be honest, moral people. Too bad some of these adults didn’t learn the same lessons.

  3. Dunce Club March 12, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    I really think the Board of Supervisors should really rethink their County Counsel…. They are definitely lacking in some skills and I am pretty sure they aren’t being too truthful with the Board.

    Trying to say a Superior Court Judge from another part of the state is bias and basically saying he is an unfair judge….Brilliant plan, Brilliant!

    They will do anything to keep continuing both of these cases, so they can keep pretending that they have some hope of winning. It is exactly what they did in the Mammoth fiasco…. delay, delay, delay and everyone knows how great that worked out for everyone.

  4. Mono Secrets Slipping out March 12, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    An example of Mono panicking that their “little secrets” are slipping out.

    For once a judge and an arbritrator from out of the county have been brought in and viewed their antics and both ruled against them. Now they are seeing that there are some people in this world will face up to this county’s mistreatment and bring it all out in the open! These two men can hold their heads high! To bad more people don’t have the morals, fortitude, and down right strength to do what they have done.

    Right is right and WRONG is WRONG!

  5. Really? March 12, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    How ironic it is that on the three person panel that decided the fate of Luman, that Obenberger was the deciding vote to terminate him.

    I think that this will be Deja Vu all over again for Mono County like the Madrid case.

    It is also ironic that Tim Hansen form north county voted not to fire Luman and that so many of the people from north county support Ingrid Braun for sheriff.

    Coutry folks have a lot of common sense!

  6. Openburger March 12, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    Once again a perfect example of how Mono County funds constantly are being spent by this county to cover up and deny what should have been done properly in the first place!

  7. Witness March 12, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    Common denominator! Am I the only person seeing the same name over and over again? Ralph Obenberger. Remember, it was his department that investigated the the Luman case! And added two additional “supplemental reports!” That this department is famous for doing! If a judge can recuse himself when he sees a conflict, why can’t Ralph Obenberger! PERHAPS, he had something to gain by being in it! This is the way it works in the good old boy system!

    • Snowman March 12, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      When the facts are not in your favor, make up some new facts with a supplemental report!

      This is like having no reasonable suspicion to stop someone (a middle eastern looking guy) and then six months later when it goes to court, write in a supplemental report that as you drove by the other person in his vehice, you could see that he had blood shot eyes!

      I think that we are seeing a pattern here!

      If John Vallejo’s motion to get rid of Judge Garbolino does not work, Vallejo’s next move will be to call the judge a racist. That always works.

  8. Snowman March 12, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    What a bunch of hacks in Mono County! After the Madrid legal decision they are going to try and pick a judge that will rule their way regardless of the evidence.

    They make the Dukes of Hazard seem like a reality show.

  9. Desperate Council Tactics March 12, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Remember folks this is the County that refused to listen to Ms Bellamo’s many complaints during Mr. Luman ‘s hearing. Including, her main objection that Obenberger had conflicts and should have been recused in the first place as a member of the panel. Now Johnny Vallejo is whining that this judge is biased against Mono County??? How hypocritical is that? Just when you think you have seen it all from this county, they just keep throwing their incompetence out there for everyone to see! Bravo!

    Mono County and their council, do not want this judge to hear this case. Their motives are clear. Keep Judge Garbolino from hearing it because he already has a taste of how they treat their employees! As well as what kind of a person that Ralph Obenberger truly is. He has read transcripts that prove just exactly how Mono County Sheriff’s Department is. He read days of testimony of how they mistreated Jon Madrid and how unprofessional they all are. Every member of the administration continuously unprofessionaly cursed on the stand and where obviously proud of what they had done to him.

    If this were not the case and Obenberger had been on the up and up they would not be worried about this judge hearing the case. It is just more proof that this County wanted Obenberger on Mr Luman’s panel, so they could pull the Good Ole Boy railroad right over his back.

    This is just disgusting, pathetic, Mono County BS period once again!


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