Legal limbo for Nutting: Supes delay action agenda two weeks
The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors met in closed session with legal counsel May 20 to discuss whether District 2 Supervisor Ray Nutting was “suspended from the office of county supervisor by operation of law” because of jury verdicts on May 14, stated a prepared statement from the Chief Administrative Office.
Nutting was found guilty of six misdemeanors following a trial that included both felony and misdemeanor charges. He was acquitted on three of four felony charges. The fourth resulted in a mistrial when the jury deadlocked 7-5 for conviction.
“The board decided that it did not want to influence the judge’s decision at the sentencing scheduled on June 6. Judge Timothy Buckley will decide at that time whether or not the misdemeanor convictions result in Supervisor Nutting’s removal from office under Government Code Section 1770 (h),” according to the statement.
Contacted via e-mail for further comment, County Counsel Ed Knapp wrote:
“The board’s position was stated by me in my report out of closed session yesterday, and also in the official county press release. I have nothing to add to what has already been officially said. The issue was the effect of Government Code Section 1770.2 during the time from verdict to judgment, and of Section 1770(h) after judgment. The board directed its lawyers to file a document with the Superior Court in People v. Nutting, which the county’s special counsel, Hanson Bridgett, will be doing in a few days. ”
An element of that filing requests that Judge Buckley let the Board of Supervisors know promptly whether the convictions in People v. Nutting result in a suspension or vacancy pursuant to Government Code Sections 1770, 1770.2 and 1771.
“Since the board does not want to influence the judge’s decision at sentencing and does not want to take actions that could be subject to attack if the judge decides that Supervisor Nutting was suspended on May 14, the board has decided to recess today’s meeting (May 20) after the presentations” and ceremonial items, Knapp is seen addressing the board on the DVD of the meeting.
District 4 Supervisor Ron Briggs said by phone last Wednesday that the board’s letter, in effect, was to “ask the judge for some direction.” Conviction on the six misdemeanors, in Briggs’ view, should result in an automatic suspension. “It’s because they all revolve around an elected official,” he said. “It wouldn’t apply that way if he was a private person. The appropriate thing for the good of all would be for him to say, ‘I’m just not going to come to the meetings for the next couple of weeks.’”
Nutting, however, remained in attendance at the May 20 board meeting.
The bulk of the May 20 agenda will be taken up by the board on June 10, and the June 3 regular meeting has been canceled. Board Chair Norma Santiago noted that two scheduled budget meetings will still be held June 2 and June 4.
Briggs also opposed the board’s decision to postpone the agenda, noting that “millions of dollars in contracts could be stalled.” He was particularly displeased that an item supporting Marshall Medical’s cancer treatment program would be delayed. He said a number of doctors had canceled patient appointments and surgeries in order to attend the board meeting and that it could be difficult to for them to reschedule for June 10.
The unusual board action included hearing public comments before retiring to closed session. Nearly a dozen supporters along with Nutting’s wife Jennifer took the board to task for what many called an inappropriate attempt to subvert the election process that put the supervisor in office. Bill Bacchi of Lotus described the potential board action as an attempt “to disenfranchise the county. You’re not jurors or the judge,” Bacchi challenged. “If you act as judge and executioner … the consequences to you and the county will be disastrous.”
Kathryn Tyler, a staff member in the Clerk of the Board’s Office and one of those who gave money for Nutting’s bail the day he was arrested, described herself as “one of the misdemeanors.” “I’m sorry Ray,” she said, addressing the board. “Ron Briggs, please have mercy. Brian (Veerkamp) please have mercy (and likewise to the other supervisors) … I know I thought I have the right to do something to help a friend … I didn’t know the law, and a lot of others didn’t know the law either.”
Nutting’s wife Jennifer began, “I’m not the public speaker of the family,” which drew murmurs of support from the audience. She described the past year of having to “watch and listen” to lies as part of a “malicious prosecution of my husband, because he did not fit their mold … Ray, you’re a man of integrity … my hero, my warrior, my strength.”
Kelly McCoy told supervisors, “Have some backbone and do what’s right … He’s been exonerated, leave him alone.”
Following the closed session, Knapp reported the 4-0 vote to follow through with the items regarding People v. Nutting.
As printed in the agenda, Item 40 is: “Conference with Legal Counsel — Initiation of Litigation pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(4). Title: Legal Issues Resulting from Jury Verdicts in The People of the State of California vs. Raymond James Nutting; El Dorado Superior Court Docket Nos. P13CRF0294 and P13CRM0744. (Est. Time: 20 Min.)”
Item 41 reads: “Conference with Legal Counsel — Significant Exposure to Litigation pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2). Title: Legal Issues Resulting from Jury Verdicts in The People of the State of California vs. Raymond James Nutting; El Dorado Superior Court Docket Nos. P13CRF0294 and P13CRM0744. (Est. Time: 20 Min.)”
See relevant sections of the California Government code below in italics.
Government code section 1770 (h): His or her conviction of a felony or of any offense involving
a violation of his or her official duties. An officer shall be deemed to have been convicted under this subdivision when trial court judgment is entered. For purposes of this subdivision, “trial court judgment” means a judgment by the trial court either sentencing the officer or otherwise upholding and implementing the plea, verdict, or finding.
1770.2. Upon the entry of a plea of guilty, the entry of a plea of nolo contendere, or the rendering of a verdict of a guilty either by a jury or by the court sitting without a jury of a public offense, the conviction of which would invoke the provisions of Section 1021, subdivision (h) of Section 1770, or Section 3000, the person found guilty shall not assume the office for which the person is otherwise qualified or shall be suspended immediately from the office the person then holds.During the time of inability to assume an office or of suspension from office, the person shall not be entitled to receive the emoluments of the office, including, but not limited to,the exercise of the powers of the office, the rights to be seated in the office, and the compensation, including benefits, prescribed for the office.
In the event the trial court sets aside or otherwise nullifies the plea or verdict before the trial court judgment is entered, the inability to assume office or the suspension from holding office shall be lifted, and the person suspended from office shall be restored to office with its emoluments, including those that would have otherwise accrued during the suspension, excluding, however, interest on any monetary payment.