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December 16, 2011

Petitioning a court to remove certain officers of a political subdivision of the State


Petitioning a court to remove certain officers of a political subdivision of the State
Haase v DelVecchio, 2011 NY Slip Op 09127, Appellate Division, Second Department

§36 of the Public Officers Law provides for the removal of a town, village, improvement district or fire district officer except a justice of the peace, by the Supreme Court for misconduct, maladministration, malfeasance or malversation in office.

Further, an application for such removal may be made by any citizen resident of such town, village, improvement district or fire district or by the district attorney of the county in which such town, village or district is located may be made to the Appellate Division in the appropriate judicial department.

Daniel Hasse filed a petition seeking to remove Christopher DelVecchio from his public office in the Mastic Fire Department, Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, pursuant to §36 of the Public Officers Law.

Citing a number of decisions including Futia v Weaver, 85 AD3d 1165 and Montanio v Rowley, 39 AD3d 653, the Appellate Division dismissed Hasse’s petition holding that the allegations in the petition did not rise to the level of misconduct, maladministration, malfeasance, or malversation necessary to justify the extreme remedy of removal from office pursuant to Public Officers Law §36.

The court, however, rejected DelVecchio’s request for the imposition of sanctions against the Hasse in connection with the proceeding. DelVecchio has asked that the Appellate Division impose sanctions against Hasse pursuant to 22 NYCRR 130-1.1.

22 NYCRR 130-1.1 permits a court, at its discretion, to award a party or attorney in a civil action or proceeding before the court [except where prohibited by law] the costs actual expenses reasonably incurred and reasonable attorney's fees, resulting from frivolous conduct as defined in the regulation. In addition to, or in lieu of, awarding costs, the court, as a matter its exercising its discretion, may impose financial sanctions upon any party or attorney in a civil action or proceeding who engages in such frivolous conduct.

For the purposed of 22 NYCRR 130-1.1, conduct is frivolous if:

(1) it is completely without merit in law and cannot be supported by a reasonable argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law;
(2) it is undertaken primarily to delay or prolong the resolution of the litigation, or to harass or maliciously injure another; or
(3) it asserts material factual statements that are false.

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