Attorney General Brown Defends Orange County Deputy Sheriffs From Effort to Roll Back Pensions

Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES--California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced his decision to seek permission from the court to file a legal brief on behalf of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) to protect an Orange County deputy sheriffs’ pension plan currently being challenged by the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

“The deputy sheriffs put their lives on the line for us, and they deserve fair compensation for their hard work serving and protecting the people of Orange County,” Attorney General Brown said. “County Supervisors are not entitled to suddenly change their minds and decide to take away important pension benefits that the deputies bargained for in good faith. The hard-working men and women of the Orange County Deputy Sheriffs’ Department deserve far better treatment from the Board of Supervisors. Their families are counting on it.”

Brown intends to file his brief in opposition to an Orange County Board of Supervisors’ lawsuit that challenges a 2001 collective bargaining agreement between the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs and the County. The agreement provides deputies with a pension known as “3% at 50,” a plan that has been adopted by virtually every public safety department in the State of California. Attorney General Brown is filing his amicus brief on behalf of CalPERS, the state employee pension plan.

The County claims that increasing the sheriffs’ retirement pension violates the California State Constitution’s debt limit and extra-compensation provisions. The Attorney General, however, has determined that the state routinely authorizes similar retirement plans in which employees obtain benefits from prior years of service.

“The County’s lawsuit poses a significant threat to all public employees in California, including local police and other law enforcement officers,” added Brown. “This case is about protecting public safety by providing law enforcement with a decent pension plan. If the County’s lawsuit is successful, it will discourage young men and women from choosing a career in law enforcement and will hurt the families who relied on the promises the Orange County Board of Supervisors.”

The case, County of Orange v. Board of Retirement of the Orange County Employees Retirement System, is currently being litigated in Los Angeles Superior Court.

A copy of the state’s amicus brief will be released when available.

# # #