The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

May 13, 2010
Schwarzenegger's 'unusual' letter to the state Supreme Court

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Gavel.jpgDavid Tyra -- the private attorney whose firm, Kronick Moskovitz Tiedeman and Gerard, has been retained by the Schwarzenegger administration for furlough litigation -- has asked the state Supreme Court to consider taking up a case that the administration has twice lost.

Well, that's sort of what he asked. Stay with us on this.

On Tuesday, the court received this hand-delivered letter from Tyra, asking that the court use its authority to review CASE v. Schwarzenegger. The administration lost the case last year after a San Francisco judge determined that furloughing State Fund legal staff violated state insurance code. The 1st District Court of Appeal upheld the trial court's decision.

Here's how the Tyra letter begins:

100511 Trya letter.JPG

The same day that the court received Tyra's letter, Chief Justice Ronald George signed off on this one-sentence order:

The time for granting review on the court's own motion is hearby extended to and including July 17, 2010.

On Wednesday, CASE attorney Pat Whalen fired off this letter to the court. He blasted the Tyra letter as a backdoor ploy to petition the court long after the deadline for doing so expired:

100512 CASE letter to SC.JPG

We sent the Tyra and Whalen letters to McGeorge Law School professor Athena Roussos this morning. She said that the Tyra letter is "extremely unusual. I've never seen a letter like that before."

Did the administration make a mistake and miss the April 28 deadline to file its appeal to the Supreme Court? Was it part of a part of a larger strategy, given that around that same time Schwarzenegger was trying to convince the high court to consolidate and consider seven key furlough lawsuits?

(The court rejected the consolidation request on April 22. That was four days after the 1st District Court's State Fund decision became final and six days before the deadline to appeal it.)

"It looks to me like they blew the deadline," Roussos said. "But Kronick is a great firm, very competent. It could have been a conscious decision. I don't know why they didn't file a petition. I guess at this point that (the administration) really has nothing to lose."

The CASE letter probably "won't have a huge impact" on what the court does next, Roussos said, but it does get the union's objections on the record.

We've asked the administration to explain why it didn't file a timely appeal to the court and to answer the charge that it is trying to circumvent the rules. We'll report when we hear back.


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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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