Notes From Babel

OC Supervisor Candidate Shawn Nelson Doesn’t Understand the Board’s Pension Lawsuit

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This is somewhat dispiriting.  Apparently, Shawn Nelson, candidate for OC Supervisor for the fourth district, doesn’t understand why the County is suing the Associated Orange County Deputy Sheriffs over unconstitutional and illegal pension benefits.

I am a practicing lawyer. It’s what I do every day, and I have two different views. One is just the topic. The Board of Supervisors themselves are the ones that passed the very thing they want to file a suit to overturn. So who is really the plaintiff, and who is the defendant? Because last  I checked, I didn’t get the opportunity to say I object! And they’d say, Mr. Nelson is that on behalf of the plaintiff or the defense? I see that’s a fatal flaw with this lawsuit. For the lawsuit, I think they’re not going anywhere and it’s going to blow up over its own weight because they sued themselves. Were it the Association of Concerned Tax Payers, or maybe not themselves as the plaintiff, it might be another issue. However, it’s not the issue at the time. The Board of Supervisors sued themselves. (Laughter from audience.) Well, it’s just the reality, and I just don’t believe it was the right way to resolve this.

I’d get this confusion if he’d left out the first sentence.  A non-lawyer might see this as strange, but lawyers see this all the time.  After parties enter into an agreement, there frequently arise questions about whether what the parties have agreed to is legal.  A classic example is contracts with minors.  Generally speaking, you can’t enter a contract with a kid and expect it to stick.  But what if you want to be sure?  You file a lawsuit, that’s what.  You seek declaratory relief—i.e., a declaration from the court that your contract is valid or not.  Knowing is half the battle, and all that.

And guess what?  Orange County v. AOCDS is a declaratory relief lawsuit.

This stuff really isn’t that hard.

[By the way, Shawn Nelson is one of the good guys–see here–which is why I said his comment was dispiriting.]

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Written by Tim Kowal

February 12, 2010 at 8:58 pm

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