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Fired California Guard’s Termination Suit Reinstated

Fired California Guard's Termination Suit Reinstated

The plaintiff jailer was terminated for excessive force and mistreatment of women and minority prisoners without being allowed to see the documents on which the decision was based. He was reinstated by a state court with back pay and full benefits. He then sued under 1983, and the court granted judgment on the pleadings against him.

The lower court erred. The rule of Parratt v. Taylor that a state post-deprivation state remedy may provide the process that is due applies only to deprivations that are random and unauthorized. Here, the deprivation--though contrary to state law--was not random and unauthorized because the people who did it had the authority to effect the deprivation and the duty to provide procedural due process, and the deprivation was foreseeable because it was their intent that it occur. Therefore the case is governed by Zinermon v. Burch. In addition, the state court found that the defendants were acting in accord with the policies, practices and customs of the police department, and a deprivation done pursuant to institutionalized practice--however illegal--is not random and unauthorized.

The state proceeding is not res judicata because under California law, a mandamus action is a special proceeding that does not bar a subsequent 1983 action. See: Honey v. Distelrath, 195 F.3d 531 (9th Cir. 1999).

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Related legal case

Honey v. Distelrath