Case Details


Attorney General Office Employees Subject To Furlough By Governor

Filing State



California Court of Appeals




Brown v. Chiang, 198 Cal. App. 4th 1203; Cal. 3d App. Dist. 2011)


The court held that employees of separately elected constitutional officers of the state could be furloughed by the governor

Case Description

A state budget crisis led the Governor of California to issue an Executive Order directing the state Department of Personnel Administration to implement a furlough of employees of the state Constitutional officers, including the Attorney General. The trial court held that the order did apply to the Constitutional officers and the officers appealed, asserting, among other reasons, that “applying the furlough order to the officers’ employees would . . . violate the state Constitution’s system of divided executive authority; . . . and . . . infringe upon the officers’ right to control the staffing and management of their respective offices.” The court of appeals held that the employees of the state Constitutional officers were subject to the Governor’s furlough order because they were subject to the state civil service system. The court noted that the state Constitution does contemplate a divided executive, but that the state legislature has plenary power, and the powers of the state Constitutional officers have been left to the legislature to define. The court stated, “Instead of making these officers entirely independent of the Governor, the Legislature, in 1945, provided that the Governor shall supervise their official conduct.” In addition, because the legislature ratified the Governor’s furlough order, and the Legislature “possesses the ultimate authority to establish or revise the terms and conditions of state employment through legislative enactments,” the furlough order was enforceable. The court acknowledged that the furlough order reduced the salaries of the employees. “But it does not interfere with the officers? statutory power to “appoint those employees the officer deems necessary to perform the duties of his or her office.”