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May 03, 2011

Disciplinary penalty of dismissal sustained as consistent with the “Pell Doctrine”

Disciplinary penalty of dismissal sustained as consistent with the “Pell Doctrine”
In re Police Officer Ruben Olavarria, etc., v Raymond W. Kelly, as Police Commissioner of the City of New York, et al., 37 AD3d 191

The so-called Pell Doctrine frequently is cited as the standard against which a disciplinary penalty imposed on a public employee by the appointing authority is to be measured.*

In Olavarria, the Appellate Division affirmed the imposition of the penalty of dismissal on a New York City police officer found guilty of a number of alleged acts of misconduct, including assault, insubordination, being discourteous to superior officers, violating an order of protection, and being asleep on duty.

Ruling that it found no basis to question the credibility of the findings underlying holding that Olavarria was guilty of these charges, the Appellate Division said the “Under the circumstances, the penalty of dismissal does not shock the judicial conscience,” citing another leading decision addressing the imposition of the “ultimate” administrative disciplinary penalty, -- dismissal. Harp v New York City Police Dept., 96 NY2d 892.

For the full text of this decision, go to:

* Pell v Board of Education, 34 NY2d 222, a disciplinary penalty imposed by an appointing authority will not be overturned unless the court finds that it is shocking to one's sense of fairness.


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