Sometimes You Win Some

Time for a happy post.
I’ve been representing an elderly Vietnam veteran for the past few months – he’s been in the process of being discharged from one of the CalVet Veteran Homes, a group of retirement homes up and down the state for retired CA vets that range from skilled nursing to independent living, for alleged code of conduct violations.
Simply put and without revealing anything confidential, the discharge was flatly legally deficient. Part of the problem is that the regulations governing when a veteran can be discharged from a home within the statutory 60-day probation period are vague or nonexistent, which unfortunately led to a situation where my client was given conflicting and contradictory guidance by Home staff, implicating fundamental due process concerns.
I’ve been arguing as much, and ended up escalating the issue to the California Veterans Board, which equivocated as to whether they had jurisdiction over this dispute (again, regulatory murk), but referred the case back to the CA Dept. of Veterans Affairs for analysis in the general counsel’s office. Long story short, I just got off the phone with one of their staff attorneys, and the Department has directed the Home to rescind the discharge, based on their own investigation as well as my advocacy and my client’s personal testimony. He’s going to get to stay, and I’m completely over the moon about it.
And as a little silver lining, the other attorney complimented me on my advocacy/lawyering. Obviously not the important part of this story, but in this line of work (and this case specifically) you can sometimes feel like you’re fumbling in the dark, and it’s immensely validating to have an expert tell you you’re doing something right.
Big picture, today an elderly veteran was able to stay in his home because the people of Los Angeles elected to give back to their community via the Measure H sales tax, which funds my job and jobs for dozens of attorneys across the county to defend the rights of indigent and vulnerable tenants. Sometimes, the system works – and while this is just one case, I can’t help but be optimistic for the success of this “civil public defense” model going forward.

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