William Arganda was employed as a peace officer by the City of Westminster, California. Following an internal investigation, Arganda was served with a Notice of Intent to Terminate on August 11, 2009, for multiple violations of Department policy involving unauthorized use of the law enforcement data system for personal business. After a pre-disciplinary hearing, the City terminated Arganda.
Arganda made a timely request for a post-disciplinary appeal hearing, and the City requested and Arganda agreed to postpone the hearing until criminal proceedings against Arganda were resolved. On March 19, 2010, Arganda pled guilty to one count of misdemeanor corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant in violation of the California Penal Code and one count of misdemeanor unauthorized disclosure of information from Department of Motor Vehicles records. Arganda was sentenced to three years of probation.
Arganda sued the City, alleging that his termination violated his due process rights. A federal court disagreed, finding that Arganda’s criminal convictions made any due process issues moot.
The Court pointed to Section 922(g)(9) of Title 18 of the United States Code, which provides that it “shall be unlawful for any person who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence to possess any firearm.” The Court observed that “here, Arganda does not dispute that he entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. He also cannot dispute that his position as a police officer required him to carry a firearm and that his domestic violence conviction precludes him from doing so under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9). Thus, Arganda’s property and liberty interests and any corresponding rights to due process were extinguished upon his disqualifying domestic violence conviction. Moreover, his convictions were obtained under a procedure more protective of his rights, and under a higher standard of proof than his administrative proceedings could provide. After a disqualifying criminal conviction, there is simply nothing more about which to have a hearing.
“Arganda’s only response is to state that he could have his right to possess a firearm restored someday. To support this, he points to a notation on his plea agreement which states that if he successfully completes probation and has no probation or other violations, the District Attorney would not object to Arganda petitioning for relief from the prohibition against possessing a firearm. However, the undisputed facts are that Arganda was convicted of an offense that precludes him from maintaining his employment for which his administrative appeal was based, and those facts extinguished his attendant property and liberty interests at the time he pled guilty. The City cannot be expected to hold his administrative appellate proceeding open indefinitely, in the event that Arganda may be able to possess a firearm again someday.”
Arganda v. City of Westminster, 2013 WL 6056491 (C.D. Cal. 2013).
The above article has appeared in a previous issue of Public Safety Labor News and has been reprinted courtesy of Labor Relations Information System. These articles are for informational purposes only.