California Government Code
Subject to meet and confer in good faith, each trial court shall establish in its personnel rules a process for the trial court to review a hearing officer’s report and recommendation made pursuant to Section 71653 that provides, at a minimum, that the decision of the hearing officer shall be subject to review, as follows:
(a) A trial court shall have 30 calendar days from receipt of the hearing officer’s report or receipt of the record of the hearing, whichever is later, to issue a written decision accepting, rejecting or modifying the hearing officer’s report or recommendation unless the trial court and employee mutually agree to a different timeframe.
(b) In making its decision under subdivision (a), the trial court shall be bound by the factual findings of the hearing officer, except factual findings that are not supported by substantial evidence, and the trial court shall give substantial deference to the recommended disposition of the hearing officer.
(c) If the trial court rejects or modifies the hearing officer’s recommendation, the trial court shall specify the reason or reasons why the recommended disposition is rejected in a written statement which shall have direct reference to the facts found and shall specify whether the material factual findings are supported by substantial evidence. The trial court may reject or modify the recommendation of the hearing officer only if the material factual findings are not supported by substantial evidence, or for any of the following reasons or reasons of substantially similar gravity or significance:
(1) The recommendation places an employee or the public at an unacceptable risk of physical harm from an objective point of view.
(2) The recommendation requires an act contrary to law.
(3) The recommendation obstructs the court from performing its constitutional or statutory function from an objective point of view.
(4) The recommendation disagrees with the trial court’s penalty determination, but the hearing officer has not identified material, substantial evidence in the record that provides the basis for that disagreement.
(5) The recommendation is contrary to past practices in similar situations presented to the hearing officer that the hearing officer has failed to consider or distinguish.
(6) From an objective point of view, and applied by the trial court in a good faith manner, the recommendation exposes the trial court to present or future legal liability other than the financial liability of the actual remedy proposed by the hearing officer.
(d) If a trial court’s review results in rejection or substantial modification of the hearing officer’s recommendation, then the final review shall be conducted by an individual other than the disciplining officer. If the disciplining officer is a judge of the trial court, the review shall be made by another judge of the court, a judicial committee, an individual, or panel as specified in the trial court’s personnel rules. However, in a trial court with two or fewer judges, if the trial court has no other judge than the disciplining judge or judges, the judge or judges may conduct the review; and, as a minimum requirement, in a trial court with 10 or more judges, the review shall be by a panel of three judges, whose decision shall be by a majority vote, which shall be selected as follows:
(1) One judge shall be selected by the presiding judge or his or her designee.
(2) One judge shall be selected by the employee or, if the employee is represented, by his or her bargaining representative.
(3) The two appointed judges shall select a third judge.
On panels in a trial court with 10 or more judges, no judge may be selected to serve without his or her consent; the term of office of the panel shall be defined by local personnel policies, procedures, or plans subject to the obligation to meet and confer in good faith; and no judge shall serve on the panel in a case in which he or she has imposed discipline.