Los Angeles County Deputy Public Defender Delia Metoyer was sanctioned $1,500 by a superior court judge for abandoning a client and disobeying a court order, but the taxpayers – not the wrongdoer – have been forced to pay the fine, along with up to $15,000 for the cost of Ms. Metoyer’s defense in State Bar proceedings.
In an October 16 column in the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, editor Roger Grace noted that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the spending for defense costs without any public discussion. “That approval was in defiance of Government Code (Section) 995.6 which limits a discretionary county-subsidized defense of an employee in an administrative proceeding to circumstances where the employee ‘acted … in the apparent interests of the public entity,’” Mr. Grace wrote. “At no time did Metoyer, even arguably, engage in an act in pursuit of the interests of the county. Rather, she catered –childishly, unreasonably, and unprofessionally – to self-interests.”
The sanctioned behavior occurred in January 2015, when Ms. Metoyer was assigned to represent a defendant charged with sexually molesting a child. Prior to the trial, she experienced pain in her back, and scheduled an MRI for January 16. She didn’t notify the court until the day before, when the prosecutor announced an intent to call the alleged victim to testify. Ms. Metoyer said she needed the next day off for the MRI, but the judge denied the request, and told her to reschedule the appointment. Ms. Metoyer responded by crying, accusing the judge of cruelty, asking to use a restroom, then sneaking out of the restroom and refusing to return to the courtroom when beckoned by the judge.
“The fact that has now emerged that the county paid the sanction imposed on Metoyer gives rise to an inquiry as to whether, as might well be supposed to be the case, the county subsidized the appeal of that sanction to the Court of Appeal …,” Mr. Grace wrote. “What are the total costs, to date, of defending Metoyer against consequences of her misbehavior? These questions are suited for a probing by the county’s civil grand jury.”