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California Court's Award of Attorney Fees to Sheriff's Deputies Investigated for Raping Prisoners Upheld

Several unidentified deputies of the Sheriff Department of Riverside County, California sued the county for not providing them with lawyers while they were being investigated for sexual misconduct involving prisoners. They prevailed and the court awarded them $57,951.51 in costs and attorney fees pursuant to Cal. Gov. Code § 1021.5. The county appealed, contending that Gov. Code § 3309.5 governed and precluded the attorney fee award.

On appeal, the Court of Appeal of the State of California, 4th Appellate District, Division 2, found that § 3309.5 controlled only in cases involving bad faith. Since the trial court found no bad faith on the county's part, the Court held that § 1021.5 governed, and that the trial court’s award of costs and fees was therefore appropriate. The trial court was affirmed and the appeal dismissed. See: Riverside Sheriff's Association v. County of Riverside, 152 Cal.App.4th 414, 61 Cal.Rptr.3d 295 (Cal.App. 4 Dist. 2007), review denied.

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Related legal case

Riverside Sheriff's Association v. County of Riverside