One of our registered nursing clients suffered a panic attack during an episode of post-partum depression.  Her husband phoned the police to help deescalate the conflict, but it unfortunately led to her arrest on suspicion of domestic violence.  Although the charges were dropped, our client was questioned by the Board, given employment releases to sign, brought into an investigational interview, and even subjected to a mandatory mental health examination under Business and Professions Code section 820.  Although the time and effort spent investigating this matter were financially costly, the nurse was able, with our assistance, to avoid disciplinary charges entirely.  The Board of Registered Nursing closed the investigation.

Remember that as a Registered Nurse, the BRN views its professionalism standards (Business and Professions Code section 2761) as applicable all the time, on the clock and off the clock.  Whether through DUI, alcohol related offenses, suspected domestic violence, or crimes of dishonesty or fraud, the Board will evaluate the specific actions of the nurse regardless of whether the case ends in a conviction.  It’s important to contact an experienced attorney any time a licensed professional has an adverse encounter with law enforcement, so that appropriate steps can be taken at every stage to avoid or mitigate license disciplinary proceedings.

Our registered nurse client was accused of physically assaulting a patient and verbally abusing him while on duty at the client’s hospital.  The problem?  The only evidence of the so-called “assault” came from the patient, who had a history of psychosis and whose complaint was authored by another RN.  No other witnesses had anything negative to say about our client either on the date of the incident or anytime before.  The Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) aggressively pursued a settlement after filing an Accusation against our client.  We refused, even as the settlement offers slowly improved as the trial date approached.  On the eve of trial, the Board of Registered Nursing elected to withdraw the Accusation, and the client was not disciplined.

This case illustrates the importance of having qualified counsel review the facts of your disciplinary matter.  If your case is reviewed by a trustworthy, experienced attorney, he or she will be able to determine whether or not settlement, trial, or withdrawal is the best course of action, in spite of whatever pressure is being applied by the agency.  In this case, our client would have felt pressured to accept a disciplinary outcome without our help, reasoning that it would have been better than the ultimate penalty of revocation had the client gone to trial.  Instead, with our guidance, the Accusation was ultimately withdrawn.

Our client, the owner and operator of a family day care, was threatened with license revocation because of a criminal conviction suffered by her husband that occurred at the family home.  The husband plead guilty to domestic violence against our client.  The Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing, refused to grant the husband a criminal record exemption so that he could be inside the home where the family day care operated, and elected to pursue disciplinary action against the licensee’s day care, even though the husband had already moved out of the home!

To fight this injustice, we had to take the client’s matter to an administrative hearing at the Office of Administrative Hearings, where we argued on behalf of the husband, to earn the exemption to be in the home, and the wife, to keep the day care open.  Both cases were successful — the Accusation was dismissed against the facility, which was allowed to remain open with no interruption and no disciplinary record, and the husband’s criminal record clearance was granted on a probationary basis, allowing him to return home to the facility.

As with all of our cases, this case does not represent a warranty or prediction about your individual case.  However, it does illustrate that even where a state agency refuses to settle a case and seeks discipline against your state license at a hearing, it is possible to have success and vindicate your professional reputation, as long as you make a strong, legally appropriate showing of innocence or rehabilitation.  The Department adopted the judge’s recommendations, and the client is now operating freely.

In March of 2018, Ray & Bishop won a highly contested Department of Social Services case on behalf of a preschool teacher in Orange County who was accused of conduct inimical and of violating the personal rights of children in her care.  We’ve previously discussed the definitions of “conduct inimical” and “personal rights” on our blog, specifically how important it is to retain experienced counsel when the Department accuses a caregiver of these serious violations.

In this case, a caregiver was videotaped while directing a child to sit still and to pay attention.  The Department used the video as evidence against the teacher, alleging that the client violated the child’s rights by restraining the child and picking up the child and moving the child away from the other children.  This video was introduced at evidence at the caregiver’s administrative proceeding.

Thanks to strong character evidence from our caregiver, and a thorough, effective cross-examination of the Department’s Licensing Program Analyst (LPA), who testified against our client, the Administrative Law Judge found that our client had done nothing wrong, and the Accusation and Exclusion Action against our client were dismissed. This Proposed Decision was adopted by DSS, and our client was officially cleared.

Regular readers of our blog know that on several occasions, we have discussed the legal impact of a Proposed Decision, the agency’s rationale when they decide not to adopt the Proposed Decision, and our clients’ rights when a Proposed Decision is non-adopted.  In this case, our client achieved a far better result than the agency was willing to accept before hearing, but the agency adopted the ALJ’s decision in its entirety.  That’s why hearing experience is important in every administrative matter.

We have extensive experience defending caregivers, teachers, and child care providers before the Department of Social Services.  Contact our firm for a consultation if you face discipline from the DSS.

Our firm was successful in achieving a restricted license for an insurance producer who had a number of prior convictions, including a felony burglary conviction.   After the client initially applied for his insurance license, his application was summarily denied due to his record.  The California Department of Insurance has the right to summarily deny (without a hearing) an application of a convicted felon.  On client’s behalf his law firm, Ray and Bishop, petitioned for reconsideration of the summary denial.  Reconsideration was granted.  The Department of Insurance still refused to grant a license, but was willing to allow a hearing with a judge for us to plead the client’s case.

The Department of Insurance was unwilling to settle the case before hearing.  However, at the administrative hearing (trial) our attorney was able to persuade the administrative law judge that our client was rehabilitated and possessed the character to obtain an insurance license.  The administrative law judge agreed with our attorney and ordered a restricted license.

This victory was the result of hard work by the client to rebuild his life, be productive, stay out of trouble, and clean up his criminal record through the courts.  The client then needed an advocate to argue his case to an administrative law judge so he could obtain a state license in the insurance industry.  To speak with an experienced insurance license defense lawyer about help with your difficult California Department of Insurance license application case, contact Ray and Bishop, PLC.

 

We have successfully represented clients before ethics committees of associations and private boards.  While associations and private boards lack the power to discipline professional and occupational licenses, adverse ethics findings can seriously damage a reputation and a career, and, in some cases, lead later to license discipline.  Private entities typically have by-laws and procedures to safeguard member rights, but may not follow their own rules unless demanded to do so by our experienced administrative attorneys.

In one case, a client was accused by an industry association of unethical behavior and was threatened with having that behavior reported to the client’s employer.  After our intervention and advocacy, the association board reconsidered its position and dropped its plan to contact the employer.  Also, many of the earlier findings of misconduct were either reversed or softened, significantly limiting the damage.

In another case, a national healthcare professional association brought a complaint against a practitioner based upon allegations from the mother of a patient.  Senior Associate Attorney Lindsay Johnson developed a robust defense and rebutted the allegations.  After reviewing our response, the association dismissed the ethics allegations and thanked our attorney for the professional response.

The Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers brought a petition to revoke probation against a Ray & Bishop client who was on probation.  Having given the real estate appraiser a chance already by placing him on probation, when BREA believed that the appraiser had made mistakes on three appraisals and had failed to disclose other license discipline they were in no mood to give another second chance.  The Bureau demanded license revocation.

After a two-day hearing, the administrative law judge agreed with Ray & Bishop Senior Associate Attorney Lindsay Johnson that 75% of the case was unproven and threw three quarters of the case out.  The judge also slashed the cost bill BREA asked be paid, trimming over $20,000 in costs down to a little over $5,000.  As a penalty for what BREA could prove, probation was extended, and the license was saved.

The Medical Board of California brought an accusation against our doctor client for a 0.11% blood alcohol level drunk driving conviction.  The Medical Board cited the fact that the physician admitted to the police officer that he was on call in demanding harsh punishment.  In settlement negotiations, the Board’s minimum offer was a five year probation that would have been devastating to the physician’s career.

At hearing the judge agreed with attorney Fred Ray that the facts did not warrant probation.  The physician was driving home after having wine at a family gathering on a Saturday night, other physicians were available to take the hospital calls, and alcoholism and alcohol abuse were ruled out by an expert brought in by the firm.  The judge agreed that probation was an unduly harsh and unnecessary punishment for the physician in light of all the evidence and argument at hearing.    A panel of the Medical Board heard arguments after non-adoption of the hearing decision and agreed with our position, giving the physician only a public reprimand with no further penalties.

For help with a California Medical Board  accusation or disciplinary action, contact our experienced physician license defense attorneys for a consultation today.

A client of Ray and Bishop was denied a teaching credential due to criminal convictions related to academic dishonesty and theft that happened while he was in college.   We disagreed with the Committee’s recommendation because the convictions were over eight years old and no longer relevant to the person the applicant had become.  We therefore demanded a hearing before an administrative law judge.  The CTC refused to offer settlement, so the matter had to go to hearing.

At the administrative hearing, the administrative law judge agreed with our arguments that the applicant had shown rehabilitation and good character.  The administrative law judge therefore proposed that the teacher applicant be granted a clear credential.  The California Commissioner on Teacher Credentialing reviewed the decision and voted to adopt the proposed decision, granting the teacher a clear teaching credential.

In 2017, Ray & Bishop won stay orders in three Superior Court cases, stopping license revocations while our we fought appeals in Superior Court.  Two stays were granted in Board of Registered Nursing cases, permitting the nurses to work with clear licenses while we fought their appeals.  A third stay was granted in a Bureau of Real Estate case, enabling the broker to transact real estate with a clear license while we fought on in court.  The appeal process is a petition for writ of administrative mandamus.  A writ of administrative mandamus, or administrative mandate, can result in an agency decision being overturned.  The Superior Court can order the administrative agency, such as the Board of Registered Nursing, to reverse its decision and not revoke a license.

In most cases a Superior Court judge will only grant a stay order if the judge is convinced that the licensee will prevail on the merits of the appeal.  In other words, a stay order can be a strong early indication that the licensee will win on appeal.  Stay orders can be very difficult to win, because in almost all cases the Attorney General vigorously fights against a stay order being granted.  In all appeal proceedings, all state agencies are represented by the Attorney General from the California Department of Justice.  Petitions for writs of administrative mandamus are typically brought in Sacramento County Superior Court.