A challenge to employee pension benefits in Orange County similar to the one being waged by San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre isn’t likely to win because its arguments haven’t won in state court in the past, according to a legal analysis.

Here’s what The Orange County Register has to say:

The report, which was sought by other members of the Board of Supervisors and kept from the public, was obtained by The Orange County Register. (County Supervisor John) Moorlach’s proposal, aimed at the deputy sheriffs’ union, will again be discussed by the board today when it meets in closed session and hires a private legal firm that will pursue a lawsuit.

Written by Richard A. Derevan, a Costa Mesa lawyer, the memo says courts would be reluctant to “unwind” the benefits the deputies already get and that judges could see Moorlach’s plan as causing a disruptive domino effect across the state.

Aguirre’s legal challenge has also hit a number of snags and is close to death. He argues that benefits granted to employees in 1996 and 2002 are illegal and void for two reasons: they were agreed upon corruptly and they violate a state provision barring the creation of unfunded debt without a vote of the public.

Moorlach has adopted the latter argument in seeking to repeal retroactive benefits given to sheriff’s deputies and estimated to have created a $100 million liability.

Again, from The Register:

Moorlach’s legal plan was created by his chief-of-staff, Mario Mainero, a former law professor, who said Monday that the Derevan memo ignored many constitutional issues and focuses on cases that are familiar to him but don’t precisely address the retroactive pension.

The law firms interviewed by the county thought the proposal was good and “They all thought we had a pretty darn good chance.”

“The fact that someone disagrees doesn’t mean they’re right and you’re wrong,” Mainero said. “Ultimately it’s the seven members of the California Supreme Court who will make the decision on what the constitution provides in this matter.”


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