A judge said Wednesday that in order to make the process go more smoothly, he is willing to be in telephonic contact when the deposition of a former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who lost his job over domestic violence allegations resumes.
“I will do my best to help you,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff told lawyers during a hearing in the county’s lawsuit against Sheriff Alex Villanueva, the Sheriff’s Department and the fired deputy, Caren Carl Mandoyan.
Lawyers for the county are conducting the deposition and maintain Mandoyan and his lawyer, Gregory W. Smith, walked out in the middle of the first session in mid-December after Smith objected to a question posed to his client.
Mandoyan, who worked on Villanueva’s campaign, was fired in 2016 following allegations of domestic violence, stalking and harassment of a woman he dated. According to an Office of Inspector General report, the sheriff’s department also found that Mandoyan lied to Internal Affairs investigators.
Villanueva’s decision to rehire Mandoyan outraged members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who filed a lawsuit seeking to nullify the action.
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. The preliminary injunction will remain in effect until the trial on April 24.
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.
In their court papers, lawyers for the county maintain the first Mandoya deposition session lasted less than 90 minutes.
“Smith instructed his client not to answer legitimate straightforward questions, including questions regarding Mandoyan’s employment history and Mandoyan’s communications with Sheriff Alex Villanueva,” the county’s lawyers stated in their court papers. “Smith instructed his client not to answer 33 questions on relevant topics in less than an hour and a half of deposition testimony. Then, Smith suspended and walked out of the deposition when the county inquired about Mandoyan’s background with the Reapers, a secret society of deputies within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.”
Lawyers for Mandoyan maintained in their court papers that Smith objected to some of the questions because he was concerned about his client’s privacy.
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