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Code of Ethics and Conduct Complaint Process

Filing of Complaint

Complainant completes the form in its entirety. Failure to complete all sections of the form may result in the filing being deemed incomplete. Incomplete filings will not be processed. All supporting documents must be attached.

Within 180 calendar days of discovery of the alleged violation, but in no event later than three (3) years from the date of the alleged violation, complainant files the completed form and attachments, if any, in the City Clerk’s Office, 3900 Main Street, Riverside, CA 92522.

Upon filing, the City Clerk reviews the submittal for completeness only. If deemed incomplete, the City Clerks notifies the complainant in writing within ten (10) City business days as to the deficiencies. A complaint shall not be deemed filed until the City Clerk accepts the complaint as complete.


Public Official’s Reply to Complaint

The City Clerk provides a copy of the complaint to the public official against whom the complaint is made within ten (10) City business days after complaint is deemed complete.

No later than twenty (20) calendar days prior to the hearing, the public official files (a) written reply; (b) copies of documents, photographs, recordings or other tangible materials; and (c) names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses of witnesses to be called at the hearing.

City Clerk provides copies of reply and tangible evidence to the complainant within ten (10) City business days after receipt.


Pre-Hearing Conference Scheduled

Within twenty (20) City business days of the complete filing, the City Clerk sets the matter for a pre-conference hearing before a hearing panel of the Board of Ethics and notifies the complainant and public official against whom the complaint is filed of the date, time, and location of the pre-hearing conference. The pre-hearing conference date shall be within forty-five (45) City business days of the complaint being deemed complete.

No later than thirty (30) calendar days prior to hearing, the City Clerk conducts a random drawing of Board of Ethics members to serve as five-member hearing panel, plus one alternate. The person whose name is first drawn serves as Chair of the prehearing conference and hearing.


Pre-Hearing Conference Procedures

The pre-hearing conference and hearing are not formal judicial proceedings. The technical rules of evidence do not apply.

No witnesses, documents, photographs, recordings, or other tangible evidence other than those submitted with complaint or reply shall be introduced at the hearing or considered by the hearing panel. However, witnesses, documents, photograph, recordings or other tangle evidence may be introduced and considered upon a finding by the majority of the hearing panel that the discovery of such evidence came to the awareness of the proponent after filing of the complaint or reply and the proponent disclosed such information to the City Clerk as soon as practicable after becoming aware of its existence.

Hearing panel reviews the complaint to determine if it complies with the following: (a) RMC Section 2.78.070 Complaint Procedures; (b) the complaint is against a public official as set forth in RMC Section 2.78.030 Scope; (c) the complaint alleges a violation of one or more of the provisions of RMC Section 2.78.060 Prohibited Conduct; and (d) the complaint does not restate allegations of violations that were the subject of a previous complaint.

If a majority of the hearing panel determines the complaint does not comply with all of the provisions of RMC Section 2.78.080 (E)(1), the Chair shall state the findings of deficiency on the record and call for a vote of the hearing panel to dismiss the complaint without a hearing. The City Clerk shall prepare a Statement of Findings for the hearing panel to adopt at the next regular meeting of the Board of Ethics. This Statement of Findings shall be considered the final decision of the hearing panel and is immediately appealable to the City Council.

If a majority of the hearing panel determines that the complaint complies with all of the provisions of RMC Section 2.78.080 (E)(1), then the pre-conference hearing shall proceed.

Once the hearing panel determines the complaint is in compliance, the hearing panel shall facilitate discussions between the two parties and review tangible evidence to determine if it is relevant to the issues raised in the complaint. If it is determined, by a majority vote, that any such evidence is irrelevant, then such evidence will be deemed inadmissible at the hearing and shall be excluded.

The complainant shall have ten (10) minutes to verbally present to the hearing panel any and all evidence, both tangible and testimonial that will be presented at the hearing to prove the allegations.

If by a majority vote the hearing panel determines that the complainant has shown by the evidence that more likely than not that there may be a potential violation of the Prohibited Conduct section, the City Clerk shall set a hearing date on the complaint within twenty (20) City business days of the pre-hearing conference. The hearing date shall be within forty-five (45) City business days following the pre-hearing conference.

The hearing panel may discuss and act upon whether or not any subpoenas are necessary to be issued by the hearing panel pursuant to RMC Section 2.80.040 (A)(5) and (B)(5). The hearing panel may set time limits for the parties to present evidence at the hearing on the complaint.

If it is determined by the hearing panel that the complainant failed to establish that it is more likely than not that there may be a potential violation of the Prohibited Conduct section, the Chair of the hearing panel shall instruct the City Clerk to prepare a Statement of Findings for the hearing panel to adopt at the next regular meeting of the Board of Ethics.

No decision or ruling by the hearing panel at the pre-conference hearing is appealable to the City Council pursuant to RMC Section 2.78.090 Appeal Procedures until after there is a final decision by the hearing panel following a hearing on the complaint.


Hearing Procedures

Prior to the commencement of the hearing, either party may request a continuance due to (a) unavailability due to illness or other reason acceptable to the City Clerk; or (b) unavailability of witness identified in complaint or reply. Only one continuance shall be granted to each party. The City Clerk shall notifies parties of new hearing date, time, and location within twenty (20) City business days of granting the continuance.

The complainant shall have the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence to establish a violation of the Prohibited Conduct section of the Code.

During the hearing, hearing panel members may ask questions of the parties or witnesses.

Neither party shall be allowed to examine the other party as part of their presentation of evidence. However, a party may cross-examine the other party as to any matters directly testified to by that party during their presentation of evidence. Cross-examination is limited to only those matters testified to by the party or witness during their presentation of evidence.

Complainant proceeds first and may, but is not required to, make an opening and closing statement, examine and cross-examine witnesses, reference evidence submitted with complaint or reply, and introduce rebuttal evidence. Opening and closing statements shall not exceed fifteen (15) minutes combined.

The public official may offer rebuttal evidence to the complainant’s evidence during the public official’s presentation of evidence. The public official may also present evidence to rebut the complainant’s rebuttal evidence. Rebuttal evidence must be evidence directly or indirectly refuting the evidence introduced by the other party.

Public official proceeds second and may, but is not required to, make an opening and closing statement, examine and cross-examine witnesses, reference evidence submitted with complaint or reply, and introduce rebuttal evidence. Opening and closing statements shall not exceed fifteen (15) minutes combined.

The complainant may present rebuttal to the public official’s evidence following the completion of the presentation of evidence by the public official. Rebuttal evidence must be evidence directly or indirectly refuting the evidence introduced by the other party.

Hearing panel deliberates. Findings are made by majority vote of hearing panel and recorded by the City Clerk.


Post-Hearing Procedures

Prior to the commencement of the hearing, either party may request a continuance due to (a) unavailability due to illness or other reason acceptable to the City Clerk; or (b) unavailability of witness identified in complaint or reply. Only one continuance shall be granted to each party. The City Clerk shall notifies parties of new hearing date, time, and location within twenty (20) City business days of granting the continuance.

The complainant shall have the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence to establish a violation of the Prohibited Conduct section of the Code.

During the hearing, hearing panel members may ask questions of the parties or witnesses.

Neither party shall be allowed to examine the other party as part of their presentation of evidence. However, a party may cross-examine the other party as to any matters directly testified to by that party during their presentation of evidence. Cross-examination is limited to only those matters testified to by the party or witness during their presentation of evidence.


Appeal Procedures

A decision of the hearing panel finding a violation of the Prohibited Conduct section of the Code shall be automatically appealed to the City Council and the City Clerk shall place the appeal on the agenda of a regular City Council meeting within thirty (30) City business days of the hearing by the hearing panel and notify the parties in writing of the hearing date.

A decision of the hearing panel finding no violation may be appealed by either party filed in writing within ten (10) City business days on a form provided by the City Clerk. The City Clerk shall place the appeal on the agenda of a regular City Council meeting within thirty (30) City business days of the filing of the appeal and notify the parties in writing of the hearing date. If no appeal is filed within ten (10) City business days, the decision of the hearing panel is final and there shall be no further right to appeal.

City Council reviews a transcript of the hearing before the hearing panel and all evidence and testimony considered at the hearing. No new evidence will be received or considered. City Council conducts the appeal hearing and makes their findings and determination.

The City Council reviews the record of the hearing to determine whether the hearing panel committed a clear error or an abuse of discretion.

  • If a majority of the City Council makes such a finding, the matter is referred back to the Board of Ethics for a re-hearing.
  • If no such finding is made by a majority of the City Council, the City Council adopts the decision of the hearing panel.
  • If the City Council finds there is a violation of the Prohibited Conduct of the Code, sanctions may be imposed as outlined in RMC Section 2.78.100.

City Clerk notifies both parties in writing of the City Council’s findings and determination. The findings and determinations of the City Council are final. There is no further right to appeal and the matter is concluded.


Complaint Form