As a trial looms over the validity of Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s attempt to reinstate a deputy fired over domestic violence allegations, a judge Friday granted lawyers for both men more time to depose a Los Angeles County Human Resources Department executive.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff also said that if the trial is to start as scheduled on Aug. 28, he will need all documents a week in advance of the non-jury proceeding involving the firing and Villanueva’s subsequent rehiring of former Deputy Caren Carl Mandoyan, who once worked at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station. If the trial cannot go forward at that time, it may have to wait until February, the judge said.
“I said from the beginning I want to get it resolved,” Beckloff said. “I want it done, you all want it done.”
Mandoyan, who worked on Villanueva’s campaign, was fired in 2016 following allegations of domestic violence, stalking and harassment of a woman he dated after the two began working together in 2012 at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station. According to an Office of Inspector General report, the sheriff’s department also found that Mandoyan lied to Internal Affairs investigators. The City of West Hollywood spends more than $20 million a year to contract with the Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services.
Villanueva’s decision to rehire Mandoyan outraged members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who filed a petition in March 2018 seeking to have Mandoyan’s rehiring declared void and to stop the sheriff and the LASD from holding Mandoyan out as a deputy sheriff or county employee.
Villanueva has repeatedly defended bringing Mandoyan back to the department, questioning the allegations against the deputy and accusing the county’s Civil Service Commission of ignoring evidence that could have cleared Mandoyan of wrongdoing.
Last August, Beckloff granted a preliminary injunction, ordering Mandoyan to give up all county property in his possession, including any Sheriff’s Department-issued uniforms, badges and weapons. Mandoyan also was ordered to stop holding himself out as a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff.
Beckloff last month denied a motion by Mandoyan’s lawyer, Gregory W. Smith, to dissolve or modify the injunction, which will remain in effect until the trial.
Smith and Villanueva’s attorney, Stanley L. Friedman, asked that they be given about five hours instead of two to depose the county human resources executive, who will be chosen by lawyers for the county. Smith said the deposition will be one of the most important in the case and that he has learned a “tremendous amount of information” that makes the questioning all the more important.
“I don’t think five hours is unreasonable,” Smith said.
However, the judge replied he would not go beyond two hours and said he was granting the extra time so that answers from the previous deposition in September can be clarified, including those which the attorney for the county, Mira Hashmall, blocked the deponent from answering.
“This is a very conflicted case and I do my best to navigate the issues,” Beckloff said.
Hashmall argued in her court papers that the deponent at times was asked for information that was irrelevant to the issues in the case.
“The county instructed the deponent not to answer some questions because they fell outside the areas of inquiry authorized by the court and on other appropriate grounds,” Hashmall stated in her court papers.
Hashmall did not identify who the county will provide from human resources for the second round of deposition questioning.