Error Of Law Not Sufficient To Overturn Arbitrator’s Decision

Daryl Chilimidos was a deputy sheriff for the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department. While on patrol duty, Chilimidos arrested a female pedestrian and performed a cursory search before he transported her to a detention facility. When they got there, another deputy searched and booked the arrestee, and found a small plastic bag that contained methamphetamine in the back pocket of her pants. Chilimidos prepared an initial report and a probable cause declaration that stated he found the methamphetamine.

An investigation eventually determined that Chilimidos had misrepresented whether he (as opposed to the other deputy) had found the methamphetamine. The Department eventually reduced Chilimidos’ pay by five percent for six months. Chilimidos challenged the pay reduction in arbitration.

When an arbitrator determined that the suspension was appropriate, Chilimidos petitioned the California Court of Appeals to overturn the Arbitrator’s decision. Chilimidos argued that the Arbitrator incorrectly determined that under California law, the Sheriff could delegate to a subordinate, in this case the undersheriff, the ability to impose discipline.

The Court found that it did not matter whether Chilimidos was correct as to the requirements of California law. The Court ruled that “at most, the error Chilimidos alleges in the Arbitrator’s interpretation of the contract was an error of law that is not properly subject to judicial review.” And, in any case, the Court also found that the labor agreement “contemplates that ministerial duties such as giving disciplinary notice may be performed by someone other than the appointing authority.”

Chilimidos v. Rupf, 2009 WL 2707442 (Cal. App. 2009).

This article appears in the November 2009 issue