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Mistrial declared in Allyn vs. FUESD


Thursday, October 24th, 2013
Issue 43, Volume 17.
Debbie Ramsey
Managing Editor


On Monday, Oct. 21, Judge Jacqueline Stern declared a mistrial in the case of Allyn vs. Fallbrook Union Elementary School District (FUESD) at Vista Superior Court, citing that the proceeds would exceed the time limit previously established for the trial. The trial had just begun its seventh day out of the 10 days slated for it. Allyn, the district’s former information technology director and an employee of 18 years, claimed she was wrongfully terminated by administrators in 2012 in an act of retaliation and that the district violated public policy by misusing public funds.

"The jury in this case had been scheduled through Thursday, Oct. 24, and the court determined that the case would not conclude until Nov. 7, resulting in the judge declaring a mistrial," said FUESD defense attorney Gil Abed of Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz, APC.

Allyn’s attorney Michael Curran, of Curran & Curran Law, posted the blame for the mistrial firmly on the defense counsel.

"I think it is reprehensible the way they wasted everyone’s time and resources," said Curran, who claimed FUESD attorneys "intentionally" prolonged examination of their defendants in order to effect a mistrial. Curran said he "repeatedly objected to the defense counsel’s undue consumption of time."

FUESD’s defendants, Dennis Bixler, Candace Singh, Bob Price, and associate superintendent Raymond Proctor were the individuals under fire by the plaintiff’s counsel. In an earlier interview, Curran said, "This case is really about an abuse of power, a breach of public trust, and a cover up that included retaliation by [Allyn’s] bosses."

Curran cited examples of what he called the "excessive" time used in the early days of the trial. "We examined Bixler for 2.5 hours, compared to their 6.5 hours; we examined superintendent Singh for 2 hours, compared to their 6 hours; and we questioned the district’s investigator Price for 2.5 hours, compared to their 7.5 hours," he said.

"Then the district and their counsel claimed they need another two weeks to put on their defense case," said Curran. "The judge was forced to declare mistrial after jurors indicated they could not stay longer then the court originally cleared."

"Two jurors would have encountered problems with their jobs; one had to report for military duty on a certain date," Curran explained.

Prior to the mistrial being declared, Curran said in his opinion, "The case was going along very well and we were demonstrating that Ms. Allyn’s termination was wrongful and retaliatory; the evidence was unfolding just as we had planned."

Conversely, Abed said "As officers of the court, neither Mr. Shinoff (law firm partner) nor I Advertisement
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will try a case in the press and will only litigate our cases before the court. We are very disappointed that we were not able to complete this trial and show the jury the abundance of evidence justifying the dismissal of a management employee in the district."

Judge Stern ordered a judicial settlement conference be set for Dec. 12 in the case, which will be presided over by Judge Thomas Nugent, to see if the parties can be assisted in resolving the case before scheduling a new trial.

"[The district] could settle with Ms. Allyn and they should," said Curran. "If an acceptable settlement is not reached, then a case management conference will be set for January, after which a new trial date will be ordered."

Following the dismissal of the jurors, Curran said he had an opportunity to speak with 11 of the 12 to gauge their opinion of the case.

"Ten of the 11 jurors said they felt like it was looking like a case of retaliation (against Allyn)," said Curran. "They said they felt Bixler and Singh were not credible, and that Singh also came across as rehearsed. They said they felt Price wasn’t believable and they hadn’t seen anything that proved [Allyn] had violated any processes."

Curran claimed one significant incident during the proceedings was noted by the jurors. "Bixler impeached himself dozens of times by changing his testimony on a critical issue in the trial." The matter involved whether or not Allyn had complained to Bixler that she was being asked to delete district archives.

"That is smoking gun evidence and we knew he was being told to change his testimony," said Curran. "We showed him what was in his notes and he had to go back to his original testimony."

Abed said his respect continues for the jury trial process. "A trial is a pursuit of the truth to a jury. We look forward to a complete vindication of all the allegations made against the district."

Curran said he felt the situation leading to the mistrial was disrespectful.

"It is a terrible, continued injustice to Ms. Allyn and 12 very conscientious jurors who listened to the evidence/case for seven days only to have their time wasted by the district and their lawyers," he said.

Curran said other matters have come to light during his handling of Allyn’s case that he feels should be investigated.

"We intend on providing a complete report and demanding the San Diego Office of Education and California Office of Education investigate these matters," said Curran.


 

26 comments

Comment Profile ImageLee
Comment #1 | Thursday, Oct 24, 2013 at 3:26 pm
One, I can only shake my head at times at our justice system. One side plays games -- prolongs the trial by bogus tactics -- and the silly judge declares it a mistrial. Where's the justice? Where? You simply call an end to a trial because of some time constraint?! What a joke. And the judge allows the defense attorneys to prolong their questioning without seeing through this obvious tactic? What is she, a rookie? What a joke our judicial system can be at times! (And, of course, our judicial system itself is a BIG TIME money-making enterprise, too: the longer, the merrier. Ching, ching.) Justice is justice, so what if the trial had taken an extra few days? Get jurors on there that are prepared for that. A trial is about the pursuit of JUSTICE and nothing else. Shouldn't it be? So now what will happen is for, perhaps, another trial in January or later to take place. OK. So this is only the prolongation of justice . . . which the District is trying to prolong/avoid. And this leads me to the second point.

If WE, THE PEOPLE -- yes, yes here I go again, were in charge; or let me rephrase that -- if there were GREATER transparency for WE, THE PEOPLE by bodies such as our school boards, et al., perhaps and probably this seeming abuse of power by the District would not or may not have happened! These defendants, so it now also appears, may not tell the truth . under oath. Where is the outcry for an investigation in THEIR potential wrong-doing?

WE, THE PEOPLE need greater transparency! REAL transparency, not some gimmicky, you know, board-meeting-appears-to-be-democracy-and-you-can-read-the-minutes-while-we-all-know-that-the-real-decisions-are-made-off-record democracy. REAL transparency where WE, THE PEOPLE see EVERY decision made by the board and ALL school officials -- period! THIS is what happens, my dear fellow Fallbrookers, when even our educational system has become a harbor of . . . greed! BOTH parties involved have corrupt morals because of . . . money.

Welcome to our educational system: a money-making machine.
Comment Profile ImageCimarron
Comment #2 | Thursday, Oct 24, 2013 at 4:19 pm
I've worked in legal field in this county for well over 20 years & never heard of this happening. Judge Stern, if I recall correctly, is a former County Counsel, civil defense attorney. In my opnion, based on this article, she should have controlled this trial better. I've worked for attorneys that would immediately file a peremptory challenge as soon as a case was assigned to her. I knew Mr. Curran years ago; he's an excellent attorney & I have no doubt that he & his client will prevail here. Hopefully, the case will resolve at the settlement conference. The school district is seriously wasting our tax dollars on this case.
Comment Profile ImageResident
Comment #3 | Thursday, Oct 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm
Bixler impeached himself many times? Gee, now there's surprise (Said with dripping sarcasm).

I'm looking forward to Curran sending the complete report to the County Office of Education.
Comment Profile ImageCourt Watcher
Comment #4 | Thursday, Oct 24, 2013 at 6:32 pm
Shame on Allyn's lawyer, Curran, for making such statements to the Village News and, therefore, trying this lawsuit in the press. And shame on the Village News for publishing Curran's remarks.
Comment Profile ImageRedneck Bill
Comment #5 | Thursday, Oct 24, 2013 at 7:36 pm
Hey Lee,

Without even realizing it I believe you may have laid the foundation for a new phrase with your post:

The JUDICIAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX.
Comment Profile ImageObserver
Comment #6 | Thursday, Oct 24, 2013 at 9:38 pm
This case exemplified the fundamental problem with school administrators, they make bad or retaliatory decisions and then use public funds to defend themselves and the cases against them. There is a total lack of fiscal and factual responsibility.

In this case FUESD HR Directer Bixler obviously changed his testimony on significant issues. FUESD Superintendent Singh was very rehearsed and spent thousands of public funds on herself. FUESD investigator, Price who made over a $million dollars from the District's counsel over the last ten years, paid using public funds, was shown to be very biased and jumped to the conclusions FUESD and their counsel wanted. Oh and the result of his $42,000 investigation of Ms. Allyn...found exactly what Ms. Allyn admitted from the the beginning....she was doing her job assisting employees with their IT issues, despicable.
After watching most of this trial, there is no doubt, Ms. Allyn was investigated and fired because she objected to Singh and Proctor wanting to delete emails and cover financial misconduct. Ms. Allyn is entitled to whatever she lost...
Comment Profile ImageHuh???
Comment #7 | Friday, Oct 25, 2013 at 7:18 am
Would anyone care to decipher comment #1?
Comment Profile ImageFR86
Comment #8 | Friday, Oct 25, 2013 at 9:10 am
This situation along with the Stephanie Crowe retrial that's being required by the court of appeals recently shakes my faith in the competency and morality of the legal system particularly the judges that are supposed to make it work. This is ridiculous and costly to the tax payers and totally unjustified. The legal profession has never looked more foolish and corrupt.
Comment Continued : The comment above was written from the same location.
Post Continued
Comment Profile ImageFR86
Comment #9 | Friday, Oct 25, 2013 at 9:28 am
RE the FUESD case:

Why couldn't the alternate jurors be used ........were there any alternates?

FR86
Comment Profile ImageLee
Comment #10 | Friday, Oct 25, 2013 at 10:40 am
@ #5 Redneck Bill

Guess what? I agree with you. Yes, our judicial system HAS become a money-making industry. Here we are, paying taxes and paying for PUBLIC services, yet these public servants then turn around and, in fact, become "private enterprises" by charging for services a SECOND time. If this isn't outrageous and wrong, I don't know what is! Another perfect example is firefighters charging folks for attending/staffing certain public events. (I'm pretty sure they do that; obviously, correct me if I'm wrong.) How can a public servant who is ALREADY paid by the taxpayer charge a SECOND time for his/her services . . . for which he/she already is paid for by WE, THE PEOPLE?! How?! Why do WE, THE PEOPLE put up with this crud? Why? Finally, Redneck Bill, I hope you remember Johnny Cochran's famous quote: "The color of justice is green." http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0312/25/ltm.10.html Isn't that the truth! So yes, we DO have a Judicial-Industrial Complex. Absolutely! "Show me the money, baby!" That's what our judicial system has become: money.

One more thought about this matter, particularly the judge. OK, so she declares a mistrial. OK, cool. Well, if she does so, isn't or shouldn't a mistrial mean that EVERYTHING in the past, i.e., the testimony during the trial, etc. is now off-limits and we start at zero? Sure, it should. Yet she allows one side (or both) . . . to question the jurors allowing it to gauge which direction they were leaning and, thus, giving one side possibly an advantage in future hearings! So where's the JUSTICE?! Where? This judge is either (A) a rookie, (B) not very bright, or (C) in on it, or (D) our system is rigged. Your guess is as good as mine.
Comment Profile ImageCalifornia Justice is a joke
Comment #11 | Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 10:20 am
As I have said before, the only losers here will be the taxpayers that foot the bill. Everybody else in this case, as with most cases involving government employees (Fed, State, and Local), will all get huge sums of taxpayer's money and will go about their business as if nothing happened. I wouldn't object to these type of trials if the people that are eventually found to have done wrong, paid the judgement. That would be justice. This is a farce. Hope and change should be a government that only provides us with essential services.
Comment Profile ImageJAS
Comment #12 | Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 10:37 am
this mistrial was called by the people attending on day 3 as the defense attorney dragged and dragged and dragged the thing on. We knew this was going to happen and the judge let it. OH GEESH What a CROCK. I Cry FOUL. Those close to the situation know what really happened and justice has not been served.
Comment Continued : The comment above was written from the same location.
Post Continued
Comment Profile ImageJAS
Comment #13 | Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 10:43 am
#1 - both parties are not corrupt. that's slander on the part of Allyn. Shame on you for pointing the fingers for something you obviously know nothing about. Retribution tactics is not acceptable when given from a party in power. All of us might as well give in and take it (men and women alike) if this kind of behavior is approved by the FUESD board.
Comment Profile ImageGRUNT
Comment #14 | Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 6:48 pm
@Lee- as I told you before, if a firefighter or other public employee goes some where and their is a fee - it does NOT go to the employee - it goes to the agency. This way, "We the peoples" money is NOT going to pay him/her for some non-public event, which I am sure would really upset you; as it should.
Comment Profile ImageFormer FUESD Employee
Comment #15 | Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 7:52 pm
I was not an observer of this trial, but before I retired I had my doubts about Superintendent Singh and Bixler. I agree with the comments of "Observer" (above). As a former teacher, I thought Ms. Allyn was qualified for the job she did, and she did her job ... when I had a tech problem, she and her staff were right on it. I was completely surprised when I learned of her removal from the job by the Superintendent. "Cimarron" above brings years of experience; it was educational to read your comment. "FR86" - I agree with all of your comments. I've sat on juries before and there were always alternates.
Comment Profile ImageRuth Noyes
Comment #16 | Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 at 9:17 pm
Well, I am not a fan of the Village News, however, to be clear and fair Court Watcher # 4 comment...this is a paper and agree or not with the story, I see only facts presented. Have I missed something? Not one time did the VN state something was their opinion. We see more hard news stories than just the fluff. Remember too, the paper is not obligated to present the town's opinion here, yet they do. I am not familiar with this case nor vested in it and I for one count on the reader's comments to take the temperature of the stories, so I am grateful for the comment section. All I am saying is it sounds like you are shooting the messenger when it is the message that troubles you. Either way, it is a sad story.
Comment Profile ImageLee
Comment #17 | Sunday, Oct 27, 2013 at 1:56 pm
@ #6 Observer

I couldn't agree with you more, particularly, "There is a total lack of fiscal and factual responsibility." Folks, let's look how the system works. You and I work our tail-ends off. You and I pay taxes. Those taxes go the government, and then to certain agencies, i.e., schools, etc. They get the money . . . and THEY get to decide what to do with it and control it.

Anybody besides me see the injustice/loophole/fallacy of this set-up?!

When we place a jar full of cookies next to a toddler, what happens? One, he/she will take a cookie, and more importantly, (B) CONTINUE to take a cookie meaning that he/she is left in control of taking a cookie(s). When WE, THE PEOPLE hand over money to an agency, it WILL continue to take those "cookies" without you and I being in charge whatsoever! As long as you and I continue to fund the purse with money WITHOUT BEING IN CONTROL OF THE PURSE, we will continue to have, as Observer correctly points out, " . . . a total lack of fiscal and factual responsibility."

WE, THE PEOPLE provide the money yet we are not able to make the decisions of that money! If this isn't a crazy set-up, I do not know what is! WE, THE PEOPLE must be in charge!!! . . . And currently we are not.

@ #14 Grunt

Do yuo TRUELY belief there is a diference weather or knot an employee direktly gets the money or the agency? Are you kitting me?! Wake up, will yuo? In either case, both scenarios are wrong! (I thought I'd type my remarks with your usual typos in order for you to be able to read and understand them.)
Comment Profile ImageAnother Former Employee
Comment #18 | Sunday, Oct 27, 2013 at 3:54 pm
I couldn't agree with comment #15 more. Singh, Bixler and Proctor ought to be ashamed of themselves! They may have won the battle but will lose the war. I do encourage Allyn and her attorneys to continue on with this. Justice needs to be served!
Comment Profile ImageTeri Heyneman-Myers
Comment #19 | Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 8:15 am
I wanted to explain about the jury and the question about the availability of the alternates. The first juror was used when a selected juror had conflicts. There was only one other alternate juror available for the trial Well...the trial was going to extend two weeks beyond the original AGREED upon date. By the way...this was not Allyn's attorney's idea. When a poll took place asking which jurors could remain the answer was obvious. This was a shame that the dedicated jurors had wasted their time.
Apparently it is common for the jurors to speak after a trial. As Mr. Curran said in the VN article Ms. Allyn was favored.
My sister, Elaine Allyn (Heyneman) and I have grown up in Fallbrook. The FUESD style of politics need to change. I think a bit of pruning needs to take place and I do not mean trees. Lets begin at the top shall we?!
Comment Profile ImageFR 86
Comment #20 | Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 9:12 am
This fiasco certainly makes the legal system look foolish and wasteful and regardless of your position on the outcome I think the judge of the trial needs to be held accountable.

On a related note, the FUESD and the FHSD administration over the years has had a few situations that have shown them to less than stellar administrators. This recent situation with the FUESD for sure but the FUHSD calamity with a previous superintendent and the money spent to pay his golden parachute are equally wasteful and illustrate needed shake-up of both adminstrations leadership.

Why we need to have 2 school districts for a town our size is stupid and inefficient to say the least. They need to be combined and the non-teaching administrative staffs reduced and those salaries put towards more teachers.
Comment Profile ImageConcerned About our District
Comment #21 | Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm
I hope school district employees such as Mr. Bixler, Mrs. Singh, Mr. Proctor, and the attorneys will be held accountable for their actions. None of the defendants had to pay for this trial, and so they had all the power. Only one board member was present on the day a mistrial was declared, and she was not on the school board when Mrs. Allyn was terminated. Why is the board not listening to all the evidence, only that of district employees that may have had a vested interest in making Mrs. Allyn a scapegoat? The school board needs to listen to the community, and all employees, and not allow Mrs. Singh and Miss Jeffries to be their only conduit to FUESD information. I suggest they order a copy of the transcript, and examine it carefully. Then, appropriate action should be taken against employees that perjured themselves, and used public funds for their own aggrandizement.
Mrs. Allyn has lost her income, and her termination makes acquiring other work impossible at this time. Mrs. Allyn is not the only employee who has been retaliated against for addressing concerns of cabinet members’ actions. It is time for the board to take a stand and support an honest and transparent organization.
Comment Profile ImageWasThere
Comment #22 | Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm
I observed one day of that trial and it was a joke. The defense legal team so obviously was burning time on the clock, it was painful to watch. I heard about every job Candace Singh ever had, what she did there, why her role(s) were important, who she worked with.........
This line of questioning by her own legal team went on for hours!! The judge was useless and could have "overseen" this trial via skype. Every time there was an objection (which was literally about every 30 seconds) she had to go back to the minutes because she had no clue what was objected to. In my opinion, they could have put a mannequin in a robe behind the judges desk and saved the salary. The jurors wasted 6 or 7 days of their time, the school wasted tens of thousands (or more?) dollars of tax payers money, just to start from scratch. While the whole process seems like a circus, there is no circus that is a billion dollar industry like the judicial system. My take on this is that the district's legal team knew they were losing this case with the jurors, so they made sure to work toward a mistrial. Now they can regroup and coach their witnesses more before the next trial.
Comment Profile Imagegrunt
Comment #23 | Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 2:36 pm
@Lee - You claim that the employee is already getting paid, then gets paid again. He does not; the agency offsets the cost from taxes with this money; it does not matter which "pile" the employee gets paid from, he or she makes the same amount. What does matter is that the agency gets a little extra, so our taxes do not have to cover that expense. I may make an occasional typo - but I do not make the same logical mistake, time and time again.
Comment Profile ImageDR DR
Comment #24 | Monday, Oct 28, 2013 at 3:49 pm
OK - it was all Pro-Bixler, Singh, Proctor, now what can WE do?? Anything??
Comment Profile ImagePink
Comment #25 | Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013 at 11:46 am
@Grunt: You can't use the words logical and Lee in the same sentence.
Comment Profile ImageLee
Comment #26 | Wednesday, Oct 30, 2013 at 7:16 am
@ #24 DR DR

What can we do? Psst, WE, THE PEOPLE.

@ #23 Grunt

Keep on thinkin', Grunt, keep on thinkin'.

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Fallbrook Village News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.

 

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