§ 2.62.100. Panel procedures.  

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  • (a) The director shall comply with all legal notice requirements for panel meetings. In addition, the director shall provide the department, and, if applicable, the complaining party and the officer whose conduct is under review with notice of the proceedings, which shall include: the date, time and location of the meeting; the names of the members of the panel; and a summary of the alleged misconduct or item before the panel.


    Except as otherwise provided in Section 2.62.080(h) of the county code, the chair shall preside over all meetings of the panel, and shall have the power to regulate all proceedings and take any action necessary for their efficient conduct, including the power to: administer oaths and affirmations; issue subpoenas (within the scope of the panel's jurisdiction) to compel the attendance of witnesses to testify before the panel; require the production of books, papers and documents; determine the admissibility of evidence; limit the scope of testimony; and dispose of procedural motions and requests. When the chair is not present, the vice chair or designated temporary chair shall be empowered to perform all acts prescribed for the chair.


    A majority of the panel members shall constitute a quorum at any meeting, and a majority of those present and eligible to vote may take official action. No member shall be eligible to vote on the findings and recommendations of a panel unless they attended all meetings at which the panel received evidence on that item.


    Subpoenas issued by the chair of a hearing panel, or the director of the review board at the chair's request, shall give reasonable notice of the date, time and place for the taking of testimony. The chair may authorize the payment of reasonable expert witness fees when necessary, subject to the availability of funds. If a witness refuses to attend and testify or produce books, papers or other documents as required by subpoena, the panel may petition the district court to order the witness to appear and testify or produce the requested books, papers or document.


    The department shall make available to a hearing panel any personnel file or other material necessary for the panel to conduct a review. Upon completion of proceedings before screening panel or hearing panel, the panel shall return all materials and copies of materials received from the department back to the department, unless the matter is referred to a hearing panel by the screening panel.


    Panel members shall consider all matters in a fair and impartial manner. A panel member who has a personal bias or prejudice in the outcome of a proceeding shall not sit on a panel hearing that matter. Personal interest in the outcome of a proceeding does not include holding or manifesting a political or social belief where such belief does not preclude objective consideration of a case on its merits. Examples of personal bias include, but are not limited to: familial relationship or close friendship with persons material to the proceedings, witnessing events material to the proceedings, being a party or witness to the proceedings, having a financial interest in the outcome of the proceedings or holding a bias that is sufficient to impair the panel member's impartiality. Prior to the commencement of any proceeding before the panel, the department and, if applicable, the complaining party or officer whose conduct is under review, may submit a motion to disqualify a panel member for personal bias, stating with particularity the grounds for such disqualification. After consideration, the panel shall either deny the motion and direct the proceedings to go forward or cause the disqualified member to be removed. A panel member shall abstain from voting on any motion to disqualify themselves. A panel member may withdraw from a proceeding where they deem themselves unqualified for any reason. When a member of a hearing panel is disqualified, the proceedings shall be continued to allow the director to randomly select another panel member. When the person disqualified is a member of the screening panel, they shall abstain from voting and the disqualification shall be effective only as to the matter in which the motion to disqualify was submitted.


    The chair of a hearing panel shall determine the order of taking testimony. Questions may be posed by the chair, other panel members, or counsel for the review board. The officer whose conduct is under review shall have the right to have counsel or another representative of their choosing present during questioning of the officer. The chair may, at their discretion, permit the department, an officer whose conduct is under review, or their counsel or representatives to be present during questioning of any witness. Following questioning by the chair, other panel members and counsel for the review board, the chair may, at their discretion, permit the department, an officer whose conduct is under review or their counsel or representatives to question the witness. The scope of questions, as well as any additional questioning, shall be determined by the chair.


    The chair of a hearing panel may, in their discretion, permit the department, an officer whose conduct is under review, or their counsel or representatives with the opportunity to present testimony and other evidence to the panel. When a hearing panel is reviewing an internal investigation of an officer, the officer shall, at a minimum, have the opportunity to be heard by the panel.


    In any proceeding before a hearing panel, the officer who was the subject of the investigation under review may represent themselves or be represented by counsel or another person of their own choosing. The officer is solely responsible for obtaining such representation, as to which the review board, the panel, the FAC, the department, the county and the city have no obligation.


    Evidence may be admitted if it is of a type commonly relied upon by reasonable and prudent persons in the conduct of their affairs. Patently unreliable, irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitious evidence may be excluded. Notice may be taken of judicially cognizable facts and of generally recognized technical or scientific facts.


    At the conclusion of evidentiary proceedings, if any, the panel members shall privately deliberate and vote upon the action to be taken.


    The proceedings of a screening panel or a hearing panel shall be closed to the public. All records submitted to the panel which contain information declared confidential by law, including judicial precedent, and all records of proceedings before the panel, except public notices and the panel's findings and recommendations are deemed confidential. Custody of all records and copies of records which are designated as confidential pursuant to this subsection shall be maintained by the director, who shall make the records available to the panel members for review at the office of the director and during proceedings of the panel. No panel member shall remove, record or copy any confidential record or copy of any confidential record from the office of the director or the location of proceedings before the panel. It shall be unlawful for any person to disclose records or the contents of records designated as confidential by this subsection which they have obtained through proceedings under this chapter, except: in the course of administration of this chapter, to authorized representatives of the department, or upon lawful order by a court of competent jurisdiction. Any person violating the confidentiality provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a term not to exceed six months, or a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars, or both such fine and imprisonment. Violation of the confidentiality provisions of this subsection shall also be grounds for removal of a member from the review board pursuant to the provisions of Section 2.62.040(k). The findings and recommendations of a panel or panel member shall not contain information declared confidential by law, including judicial precedent, unless such information is designated as confidential and disclosed as provided under this section for confidential records.


    A panel shall not abridge the rights of an officer which are granted pursuant to any applicable collective bargaining agreement, contract, or law.


    A hearing panel must complete its review and make its determination as to any request for review referred to it by the screening panel within ninety days of the date the matter is first considered by the hearing panel. The ninety-day period shall be tolled during any ongoing investigation or proceeding which deprives the panel of jurisdiction pursuant to Section 2.62.060 of the county code, or during any litigation ever the panel's jurisdiction or a subpoena issued by the panel. Upon expiration of the ninety-day period, a panel shall have no authority to continue a review or make a recommendation.


    Consideration of a citizen complaint against an officer or a request for review of an internal investigation of an officer by a panel shall not stay the imposition of discipline or other action by the department. The screening panel or the hearing panel to which the matter has been referred, however, may recommend to the department that discipline be stayed pending review.

    (Ord. 2295 § 1 (part), 1999)

(Ord. No. 3749, § 1, 3-3-2009)