Unfair Police Chief Discharge Procedure In California

In Binkley v. City of Long Beach (1993) 16 Cal. App. 4th 1795 [20 Cal. Rptr. 2d 903] court reversed the trial court's issuance of a writ of mandate, finding that the procedure by which a police chief had been discharged and his appeal heard were not fundamentally unfair. The basis for that holding was that the chief of police held his position at the pleasure of the city manager who was free to discharge him without just cause so long as the chief was given the opportunity to convince the employing authority to reverse its decision. We reached our conclusion despite the fact that the city manager had both initiated the process and retained final decision-making authority in the matter. In so holding, we relied in part on the following reasoning of the court in Gray v. City of Gustine (1990) 224 Cal. App. 3d 621 [273 Cal. Rptr. 730]: "Bias and prejudice are not implied and must be clearly established. A party's unilateral perception of bias cannot alone serve as a basis for disqualification. Prejudice must be shown against a particular party and it must be significant enough to impair the adjudicator's impartiality. The challenge to the fairness of the adjudicator must set forth concrete facts demonstrating bias or prejudice." (Gray, supra, at p. 632; Binkley, supra, at p. 1810.)