Ex-deputy wants job back
A former Yuba County sheriff's deputy fired for a 2003 hazing incident that injured a fellow deputy is suing to get his old job back.
Steven Welty, who represents former deputy Bobby Cooper, is asking a Yuba County court to set aside his 2004 termination and to require the county to give a less severe punishment.
Welty, who could not be reached for comment Monday, is also requesting the associated court documents be sealed from the media and the public because the suit involves personnel issues and would be “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,” according to the suit.
A Yuba County judge will decide whether or not to seal the documents in a hearing at 10 a.m. Monday in Department 2 at the Yuba County Courthouse in Marysville.
No one from the County Counsel's Office could be reached for comment.
If kept open, the case would also reference other officers involved in the incident, according to the suit, and would cause Cooper embarrassment if his job were reinstated.
The suit arises from a 2003 hazing incident in Santa Clara County during a conference for SWAT members.
Then-deputy Chad Ellis was tackled and bound with duct tape by Cooper, Sgt. Allan Garza, and Dep. Joshua Jellsey after he refused to buy them a meal in an initiation rite.
Garza pleaded no contest to false imprisonment, and Jellsey pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace in October 2004. They received probation and community service hours.
Cooper pleaded no contest to a charge of false imprisonment. In addition to his termination, Cooper was placed on probation for one year, fined $150 and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
Several other deputies were named in a civil suit but not charged with a crime.
The Cooper suit, filed last month, requests an unspecified amount of compensation for legal fees and costs associated with the case. It also requests that the termination be set aside and that the county render a punishment that is consistent with the court's decision.
Cooper “received discipline far more severe that the other officers involved for the same conduct,” Welty stated in the suit on Cooper's behalf.
The suit claims that the county abused its discretion in the incident and imposed a severe and unconscionable punishment on Cooper.
It says the findings that led to Cooper's termination were not supported by the evidence in light of the whole record and failed to establish that the weight of the evidence supported a finding that the discipline was reasonable.
Welty also stated the administrative law judge who arbited the actions against Cooper used an inappropriate standard of review in upholding Cooper's termination.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Daniel Witter can be reached at 749-4712. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.