Assistant Secretary/General Counsel, Patrick R. McKinney II
Chief Deputy General Counsel, Simone Renteria (A)
Chief Deputy General Counsel, vacant
The Office of Legal Affairs manages all litigation involving the Department; provides legal advice and assistance to the Secretary and staff of the Department; and represents the Department in administrative proceedings.
The legal work of the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) is divided among nine separate teams: the Business and Infrastructure Legal Team, the Non-Medical Class Action Management Team, the Employment Advocacy and Prosecution Team, the Health Care Legal Team, the Institutions and Parole Operations Legal Team, the Labor and Human Resources Team, the Litigation Prevention Team, the Liability Assessment and Litigation Management Team, and the Parole Hearings Team.
The Business and Infrastructure Legal Team advises CDCR in transactional issues related to public contracts, construction, environmental, bond sales, intellectual property and real property law. They also work collaborating with the Office of the Attorney General and contract counsel in managing litigation related to those areas of law.
The Non-Medical Class Action Management Team is a unit that is responsible for overseeing the management of class action suits against the Department. They work collectively with other units in developing and implementing strategic management plans for reaching substantial compliance of various class action lawsuits.
The Employment Advocacy and Prosecution Team has implemented a vertical advocacy process handling employee discipline issues (including participating in internal affairs investigations, litigating employee appeals, requests to file charges, or whistleblower retaliation complaints before the State Personnel Board, and defending or prosecuting petitions for writs of administrative mandamus before the appellate courts).
The Health Care Legal Team focuses its efforts on matters related to inmate health care, from Keyhea hearings to coordination with Attorney General's Office on inmate class actions related to health care (Plata, Budd, Coleman, and others) and inmate habeas petitions involving correctional health care.
The Institutions and Parole Operations Legal Team tackles inmate, parolee, and ward issues ranging from gang validation; mail and visiting; religion, inmate discipline, sex offender parolees, and so on. Attorneys in this unit coordinate with the Attorney General's Office on inmate habeas petitions involving conditions of confinement. Staff in this unit are also responsible for the coordination of Public Records Act requests.
The Labor and Human Resources Legal Team represents the Department in cases concerning discrimination, sexual harassment, CalOSHA, and employee medical and disability retirement. Attorneys on the team also advise Departmental management on personnel and labor issues.
The Litigation Prevention Team coordinates with the State Compensation Insurance Fund in processing and monitoring employee and inmate Workers' Compensation claims. Attorneys on this team review and assess Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board claims filed against the Department. The team also manages the legal assistance mailbox, which provides staff with a centralized point of contact for requesting legal assistance.
The Liability Assessment and Litigation Management Team serves as CDCR’s in-house counsel, managing inmate/ward/parolee and private citizen civil litigation. The team also provides in-house representation and advice on small claims and third-party subpoena matters.
The Parole Hearings Legal Team is an independent legal unit that serves the Board of Parole Hearings. The team performs decision review on life prisoner suitability decisions, works with the Office of the Attorney General to respond to litigation and writs of habeas corpus, and provides house counsel services for the Board.