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From now until
September 15th, 2017, Lawblog fans can nominate their favorite blogs and bloggers for inclusion in the voting round of 2017. As in previous years, the nomination process is competitive, meaning the more nominations a blog receives, the more likely it is to be included in the public voting stage of the contest.

To access the link to the nomination form, click on:

https://www.theexpertinstitute.com/blog-contest/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=CTA&utm_campaign=blog-contest-8.14.2017-general

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

An electronic resource for law enforcement personnel, attorneys and others involved in law enforcement


An electronic resource for law enforcement personnel, attorneys and others involved in law enforcement

AELE provides unique resource for those involved in law enforcement, providing free publications and online back issues since 2000. It has a searchable library of more than 33,000 case digests organized into 700 + indexed topics. There are no advertisements, tracking "cookies" or popups on its website and users do not have to preregister. There is no time limit on research sessions and the contents of AELE’s online law library may be copied and pasted, saved or printed (except for commercial purposes).

AELE encourages readers to sign up for its e-mail alerts at http://www.aele.org/e-signup.html 

AELE also has a free search tool [http://www.aele.org/htdig/common/search.html] covering its database of more than 33,000 case summaries and offers access to its more than 33,000 case summaries, divided into 700 + topics.

1. Law enforcement civil liability at http://www.aele.org/law/Digests/civilmenu.html
2. Employment law and discipline at http://www.aele.org/law/Digests/emplmenu.html
3. Jail and prisoner legal issues at http://www.aele.org/law/Digests/jailmenu.html

The following items were posted in AELE’s May issue:

1. Article: Power Down: Tasers, the Fourth Amendment and Police Accountability, 91 N.C. Law Rev. 606 (Jan. 2013).



2. A new article appears in the AELE Monthly Law Journal.

* Public Protection -- Part One: The Physically Ill

Police officers inevitably run into individuals who are seriously ill, such as heart attacks, strokes, epileptic seizures, diabetic incidents, and any number of other health emergencies in which the lack of swift action may all too often mean the difference between life and death or permanent impairment and disability.

View at http://www.aele.org/law/2013-05MLJ101.html


3. The May 2013 issues of AELE's three periodicals have been uploaded.

The current issues, back issues since 2000, case digests since 1975, and a search engine are FREE. Everyone is welcome to read, print or download AELE publications without charge. The main menu is at: http://www.aele.org/law

*** Law Enforcement Liability Reporter ***

Nine cases are discussed in this issue, including false arrest, firearms related, restraint asphyxia, photographing an officer making an arrest, immigration issues and search & seizure.

View at http://www.aele.org/law/2013all05/LR2013MAY.html


*** Fire, Police & Corrections Personnel Reporter ***

Ten cases are discussed in this issue, including disability claims, Weingarten rights, standby pay, pensions, retaliation, exclusionary rule, and other issues.

View at http://www.aele.org/law/2013all05/FP2013MAY.html


*** Jail and Prisoner Law Bulletin ***

Ten cases are discussed in this issue, including inmate orthopedic shoes, classification as a Mexican Mafia member, fatal drug interactions, a Ponzi scheme, religious hairstyles, retaliation, punitive segregation, sexual assault and workers compensation.

View at http://www.aele.org/law/2013all05/JB2013MAY.html

Agency required to comply with its own procedures in processing a disciplinary action



Agency required to comply with its own procedures in processing a disciplinary action
Hassan v New York City Dept. of Correction, 2013 NY Slip Op 02686, Appellate Division, First Department

In this appeal of a CPLR Article 78 decision by Supreme Court that sustained the New York City Department of Correction’s [DOC] finding that the individual [Appellant] was guilty of certain charges, the Appellant conceded that the Hearing Officer’s determination was supported by substantial evidence.

Rather, Appellant contended, the record before the Supreme Court was defective because it was incomplete in that it lacked a record of the disciplinary hearing, DOC’s answer, and a written statement by a Correction Officer that the Hearing Officer was required to show Appellant as required by “DOC Directive 6500R-B(III)(C)(25) and (26).”

The Appellate Division agreed, explaining that “it cannot be determined on this record whether the Hearing Officer's failure to show [Appellant] the written statement by [the Correction Officer] prejudiced Appellant's defense.

Accordingly, said the court, it was remanding the matter to Supreme Court and directed DOC “to submit an answer pursuant to CPLR 7804(d) and any appropriate submissions pursuant to CPLR 7804(e), including a record of the hearing and a written witness statement [by the Correction Officer].”

The ruling further provides that after DOC made such submissions to Supreme Court, Supreme Court is to determine if the failure to provide Appellant with these writings “was harmless error.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2013/2013_02686.htm

Monday, April 29, 2013

A state may deny access to records available to its citizens pursuant to its Freedom of Information Law to individuals not citizens of that state who make a FOIL request for such records


A state may deny access to records available to its citizens pursuant to its Freedom of Information Law to individuals not citizens of that state who make a FOIL request for such records
McBurney Et Al. v. Young, Deputy Commissioner and Director, Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement, Et Al.U.S. Supreme Court 14-7206

A challenge to Virginia's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which grants only citizens of Virginia access to all public records, does not violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution was rejected by U.S. Supreme Court, affirming the ruling by the Court of Appeals, 4thCircuit.

Mark J. McBurney and Roger W. Hurlbert, respectively citizens of Rhode Island and California, each requested documents under the Virginia FOIA. Their requests were denied because of their citizenship although such documents would have been provided to them had they been citizens of Virginia.

The court explained that Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act “does not regulate commerce in any meaningful sense, but instead provides a service that is related to state citizenship.” Accordingly, said the court, it did not violate any provision set out in the U.S. Constitution when it refused to furnish certain information otherwise available to citizens of Virginia that it denied the McBurney plaintiffs.

In the words of the court: Under the Privileges and Immunities Clause, "[t]he Citizens of each State [are] entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States." U. S. Constitution, Article IV, §2, Clause. 1. We have said that "[t]he object of the Privileges and Immunities Clause is to 'strongly . . . constitute the citizens of the United States [as] one people,' by 'plac[ing] the citizens of each State upon the same footing with citizens of other States, so far as the advantages resulting from citizenship in those States are concerned.' " This does not mean, we have cautioned, that ‘state citizenship or residency may never be used by a State to distinguish among persons.’ Nor must a State always apply all its laws or all its services equally to anyone, resident or nonresident, who may request it so to do."

The Supreme Court concluded that “Virginia's citizens-only FOIA provision neither abridges any of McBurney's or Hurlbert's fundamental privileges and immunities nor impermissibly regulates commerce,” thus the constitutional claims advanced by McBurney and Hurlbert failed.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

An employee is entitled to be defended at the employer’s expense notwithstanding that their action “while discharging their duties” violated a law, rule or regulation


An employee is entitled to be defended at the employer’s expense notwithstanding that their action “while discharging their duties” violated a law, rule or regulation

The Court of Appeals ruled that employees of the New York City Department of Education [DOE] who are sued for using corporal punishment are entitled to a defense provided by the City notwithstanding the fact that the employees' conduct violated a State regulation.

Both employees, paraprofessionals serving with the New York City schools, were defendants in civil suits brought by students who alleged that the employees hit them.

Although the employees do not dispute that the actions they were found to have committed violated a Rule of the Board of Regents, 8 NYCRR 19.5 (a), which prohibits corporal punishment, they asked the City to defend them in the civil actions brought against them.

The City of New York rejected their requests for it to defend them in the civil lawsuits. Supreme Court held that the City should provide for their defense; the Appellate Division reversed the Supreme Court’s ruling. The Court of Appeals reversed the Appellate Division’s determination.

The employees contended that they were entitled to having the City provide for their defense pursuant to Education Law §3028, which provides:

"Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of any general, special or local law, or the limitations contained in the provisions of any city charter, each board of education, trustee or trustees in the state shall provide an attorney or attorneys for, and pay such attorney's fees and expenses necessarily incurred in the defense of a teacher, member of a supervisory or administrative staff or employee . . . in any civil or ciminal [sic] action or proceeding arising out of disciplinary action taken against any pupil of the district while in the discharge of his duties within the scope of his employment . . ." (Emphasis supplied by the Court of Appeals).

The court said the controlling issue is whether the actions that resulted in the students' lawsuits against the employees were taken "while in the discharge of [their] duties within the scope of [their] employment," as required by §3028. Although the City conceded that the employees were acting within the scope of their employment, it argued that the statutory words "discharge of . . . duties" have a more restrictive meaning, and that an employee who is violating his or her employer's regulations cannot be acting in the "discharge of [her] duties."

The Court of Appeals rejected the City's argument, explaining that "Scope of employment," "discharge of duties" and similar phrases have long been regarded as interchangeable, citing Joseph v City of Buffalo, 83 NY2d 141. Accordingly, the court concluded that the authors of Education Law §3028 “intended to provide a defense even where an employee's use of corporal punishment violated regulations.”

In the words of the Court of Appeals, “Section 3028 requires the City to provide an attorney not just in civil, but also in criminal cases — suggesting that the Legislature wanted even employees who engaged in highly questionable conduct to be defended at public expense. If the 1960 Legislature meant to exclude cases in which corporal punishment was forbidden by regulation — as it was in New York City when §3028 was enacted — it could have done so explicitly.”

The decision is silent with respect to the indemnification of the employees in the event either or both employees are held liable for damages in the civil actions giving rise to these appeals

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2013/2013_02775.htm


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli


Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli
Issued during the week ending April 18, 2013 [Click on text highlighted in bold to access the full report] 


DiNapoli Audit Finds $7.7 Million in Questionable Charges by Special Education Providers

The Lake Grove School and the Mountain Lake Children’s Residence, two special education providers run by the same company, overcharged taxpayers by as much as $7.7 million over a four–year period, according to an auditreleased Friday by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.


DiNapoli: State’s Brownfield Cleanup Program Needs To Reach More Sites; Be More Cost–Effective

The New York State Legislature should examine options to restructure the state’s primary program to revitalize contaminated properties – the Brownfield Cleanup Program – in order to fully achieve the important economic, public health and environmental goals set when the program was created, according to a reportreleased Monday by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.


DiNapoli Supports Lobbying Disclosure and Independent Director Proposals at Peabody Energy

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli Tuesday announced support for two shareholder proposals at Peabody Energy Corporation’s annual meeting on April 29 calling for Peabody to disclose corporate lobbying expenses and to require the chairman of the board to be an independent director.


DiNapoli Refers Investigation of Substance Abuse Provider to U.S. Attorney

Phoenix Houses of New York, Inc. provided inappropriate perks to its executives exceeding $223,000 while under contract with the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, according to a reportreleased Wednesday by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. DiNapoli referred the findings to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office for review.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli


Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli
Issued during the week ending April 26, 2013 [Click on text highlighted in bold to access the full report] 


Bloomingburg Joint Fire District – Internal Controls Over Financial Operations (Sullivan County)
The district board did not ensure that disbursements were made for authorized district purposes. The board did not adequately segregate duties or implement sufficient compensating controls. The district treasurer performs all aspects of the cash disbursements process – including preparing the monthly abstracts; printing, signing, and mailing the checks; and preparing the bank reconciliations – without sufficient oversight by the board.


Village of Depew – Internal Controls Over Capital Projects (Erie County)
Auditors found significant problems with the accounting for and reporting of capital project activity as well as the use of certain debt proceeds. The village did not maintain capital project records in a manner that readily provides information about actual resources committed and expenditures incurred throughout the course of each project, which often span two or more fiscal years.


Essex County Probation Department – Internal Controls Over Financial Operations (2013M-38)
County and department officials had not established an adequate system of internal controls over the department’s financial operations. As a result, cash receipts were not properly accounted for, secured, and deposited in a timely manner. The department’s failure to establish policies and procedures regarding DWI administrative fees has resulted in an inequitable assessment of fees to probationers and a lack of enforcement of inactive probationers’ delinquent accounts. For example, we found that 89 inactive probationers owe at least $9,710, but as much as $58,260, to the county for unpaid fees.


Essex County Sheriff’s Department – Internal Controls Over Cash Receipts and Disbursements (2013M-35)
Although the department established a money-handling policy in April 2012, cash receipts and disbursements were not processed in accordance with the policy. Auditors found the civil clerk performed virtually all financial duties without sufficient oversight or other mitigating controls. Bail and civil office cash receipts were not properly accounted for, secured, and deposited in a timely manner. Also, the department’s computer system allowed for the ability to modify and delete financial transactions, creating the opportunity for the manipulation and concealment of transactions.


Town of Johnsburg – Management Oversight and Online Banking (Warren County)
The town board did not adequately design, implement, or monitor internal controls over the town’s financial activities. The board did not conduct an annual audit of the records of officials and employees who receive and disburse cash. The town supervisor has not adequately segregated the bookkeeper’s online banking duties. Also, the town has not established a confirmation process with its bank for online transfers of town moneys.


Town of North Castle – Cash Disbursement (Westchester County)
Internal controls over cash disbursement are appropriately designed and operating effectively with the exception of bank reconciliations, which have not been prepared since May 2012. Because the town’s deposits total $26 million, the lack of bank reconciliations creates a risk that errors or fraudulent transactions could occur without detection.


Town of Owego Fire District – Board Oversight (Tioga County)
The district board did not audit and approve claims after the transactions occurred and prior to the treasurer paying those claims. Although the board did ensure that the goods purchased were for district purposes, they could not be sure that the amounts paid were aligned with its previously established expectations. In addition, district officials could not account for more than 50 percent of fuel delivered to two of the three district fire stations.


Rescue Fire Company, Inc. – Unaccounted-For Bar Receipts (Niagara County)
All four bar committee members had unmonitored access to the safe where the cash from bar operations was stored.  The board did not require bar committee members to have a second member present while conducting cash counts or adding or removing cash from the safe. Company officials said over the last several years, the bar committee chairman was able to divert cash from the cash register in the bar without their knowledge.


Village of Village of the Branch – Internal Controls Over Financial Operations (Suffolk County)
The village building inspector did not take an oath of office and, as generally required of a village officer, does not reside within the village. In addition, the village and the inspector have entered into a contract, which provides for an annual fee for basic services of $8,000 plus 50 percent of certain permit fees. During the audit period, the inspector received $84,197, nearly $73,000 of which was based on fees collected for building permits.  Because there is no cap on the amount of fees paid to the building inspector, the village cannot know whether the inspector’s compensation is excessive in any given year.


Beacon City School District – Budget Review (Dutchess County)
Auditors found that the significant revenue and expenditure projections in the preliminary budget are reasonable. The district’s proposed budget complies with the property tax levy limit.


Chenango Valley Central School District – Budget Review (Broome County)
Auditors found that the significant revenue and expenditure projections in the proposed budget are reasonable. The district’s proposed budget complies with the property tax levy limit.


Fairport Central School District – Financial Condition and Capital Improvement Project Expenditures (Monroe County)
The district’s budgeting practices have generated repeated operating surpluses and withheld significant funds from productive use. From fiscal year 2007-08 through 2011-12, the district generated net surpluses totaling $15.8 million, an average of $3.2 million in each year. Auditors also found we found that officials did not solicit proposals for $2.7 million in capital improvement project -related services, as required by the district policy.


Monroe-Woodbury Central School District (Orange County)
Auditors found that the significant revenue and expenditure projections in the proposed budget are reasonable. The district’s proposed budget complies with the property tax levy limit.


Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District – Business Office Operations (Fulton County)
Auditors found the district established adequate internal controls over business office operations. Board policies and written procedures have been developed and adhered to by staff for cash receipts and disbursements, payroll, purchasing, and claims processing. Further, district officials developed appropriate segregation of duties amongst business office staff where possible and also implemented various reviews of the work performed as mitigating controls.

  ================================

For access to state and local government spending and more than 60,000 state contracts, visit http://www.openbooknewyork.com/. The easy-to-use website was created by Comptroller DiNapoli to promote openness in government and provide taxpayers with better access to the financial workings of government.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Judge removed from his position for cause notwithstanding his earlier resignation from the position


Judge removed from his position for cause notwithstanding his earlier resignation from the position

A former Judge [Judge] appealed a determination of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in which the Commission had sustained a single charge of judicial misconduct against him and determined that he should be removed from office (see NYS Constitution, Article VI, §22; Judiciary Law §44[1]).

The Judge had earlier resigned from his position after admitting to certain conduct that he characterized as “indefensible” that occurred 40 years earlier.

Notwithstanding the Judge’s resignation, the Commission continued the proceeding and ultimately sustained the charge* and ordered Judge’s removal, finding that his admission, standing alone provided a sufficient basis for the determination.**

Citing Matter of Going, 97 NY2d 121 and Matter of Aldrich, 58 NY2d 279, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Commission’s action, explaining that it measures “the necessity for removal ‘with due regard to the fact that judges must be held to a higher standard of conduct than the public at large’ as even ‘relatively slight improprieties subject the judiciary as a whole to public criticism and rebuke, it is essential that we consider’ the effect of the Judge's conduct on and off the Bench upon public confidence in his [or her] character and judicial temperament."

The Court said that it agreed with the Commission that Judge's admissions, by themselves, were sufficient to warrant the finding of judicial misconduct. The admitted conduct undermined the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary and therefore, said the court, rendered Judge unfit for judicial office.

Noting that “[I]t is troubling that the petition is based solely on conduct that occurred 40 years ago —- 13 years before [Judge] was elevated to the bench,” the Court of Appeals said that the misconduct alleged is grave by any standard.

Accordingly, said the court, the determined sanction of removal should be accepted and Judge removed from the office of Judge.

* Two Commission members dissented in part on the ground that Judge had removed himself from his judgeship by resigning and that his post-resignation removal proceedings "served no purpose" in this case.

** Similarly, 4 NYCRR 5.3(b) which applies to employees in the classified service of the State and public authorities, public benefit corporations and other agencies for which the Civil Service Law is administered by the State Department of Civil Service, provides:provides, in pertinent part, “…when charges of incompetency or misconduct have been or are about to be filed against an employee, the appointing authority may elect to disregard a resignation filed by such employee and to prosecute such charges and, in the event that such employee is found guilty of such charges and dismissed from the service, his termination shall be recorded as a dismissal rather than as a resignation.” Many local civil service commissions have adopted a similar provision.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

Employee’s argument that “mitigating circumstances” should temper imposing the penalty of dismissal from her position rejected


Employee’s argument that “mitigating circumstances” should temper imposing the penalty of dismissal from her position rejected
Thornton v Edwards-Knox Cent. Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., 2013 NY Slip Op 02450, Appellate Division, Third Department

A school bus driver [Driver] was promoted to Senior School Bus driver in 2006. She served in that capacity until her position was abolished in 2010 and she was returned to her previous duties as a bus driver.

The appointing authority then discovered that Driver had neglected to complete certain required records during the 2009-2010 school year and ultimately filed disciplinary charges against her pursuant to Civil Service Law §75 setting out nine counts of incompetence and misconduct alleging, among other things, that:

[1] She had failed to properly complete and maintain records required by several state agencies;

[2] She had provided bus drivers with advance notice of purportedly random drug and alcohol testing; and

[3] She had sent a disparaging email about the school district to transportation supervisors in other school districts.

The Hearing Officer found Driver guilty of seven of the nine charges and recommended that she be discharged. The appointing authority adopted the Hearing Officer's findings and recommendation as to the penalty to be imposed and dismissed Driver, who subsequently commenced a CPLR Article 78 proceeding challenging her termination. 

Supreme Court dismissed her petition. The Appellate Division sustained the Supreme Court’s ruling, explaining that in evaluating Driver’s appeal it ‘must consider whether, in light of all the relevant circumstances, the penalty is so disproportionate to the charged offense[s] as to shock one's sense of fairness.”

The Appellate Division first addressed Driver’s return to the position of bus driver after serving as senior bus driver noting that it was not a "demotion," but, rather, occurred as specified in a memorandum of understanding pursuant to which the position of senior bus driver had been created in contrast to being a disciplinary consequence of Driver's misconduct.

The decision notes that while Driver sent the disparaging email after being reinstated to a school bus driver position because she was "upset" about losing the post, most of the remaining charged conduct had occurred prior to the elimination of the position, but appointing authority neither learned about it nor took disciplinary action against Driver until after she had left the Senior School Bus Driver position.

The Appellate Division said that Supreme Court had noted that the charges here did not arise from a single issue or act, nor were the shortcomings limited to matters that did not impact student safety. Among the examples of misconduct described was the Driver “just before leaving the senior bus driver position in late August 2010 [had] discovered that she had ‘forgot[ten],’ for a period of almost a full year, to maintain certain required certifications for the school district's bus drivers” and wrote a note to successor that she placed “in a drawer with the unfinished paperwork and left for a vacation.”

The school district's employees testified that this and Driver's other failures endangered the school district's eligibility for state transportation aid and placed it at risk of fines and other legal and financial consequences and “[m]ost seriously, the safety of the school district's students was jeopardized by Driver's warnings to drivers of the dates of random drug and alcohol tests.”

As to mitigating circumstances that might temper imposing the penalty of dismissal, the Appellate Division said it was “unpersuaded by Driver's argument that, in light of her unblemished disciplinary record as a bus driver, she should not be terminated for her offenses involving supervisory and administrative responsibilities, as these are not part of her work as a bus driver” and found that the Driver's termination was neither disproportionate to her misconduct nor to the risk of harm it posed to the school district.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Employers must use the revised federal Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9) after May 7, 2013


Employers must use the revised federal Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9) after May 7, 2013.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, advises employers that after May 7, 2013* only the newly revised federal Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9)** may be used 

New York State Department of Civil Service has added Advisory Memorandum 13-1 to the State Personnel Management Manual. This Manual applies to officers and employees of the State as the employer.

Advisory Memorandum 13-1, prepared by Marc Hannibal, Special Counsel, addresses the use of the newly revised federal Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9).

N.B. With respect to I-9 Forms prepared after May 7, 2013, only the new March 8, 2013 version of the Form I-9 will be accepted. The form and instructions for its use is posted on the Internet at:


Political subdivisions of the State may wish to check with the responsible local civil service commission or personnel officer concerning the processing of the Form I-9 in their respective jurisdictions.

The Department of Civil Service’s Advisory Memorandum 13-1 is set out below:

 =================

This Advisory Memorandum updates State Personnel Management Manual Advisory Memorandum #09-01, dated March 13, 2009, located in Sections 1000 and 1800. Note on both copies of the 2005 Memo that this Advisory Memorandum should be consulted.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published a revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 for use. Improvements to Form I-9 include new fields, reformatting to reduce errors, and clearer instructions for both employees and employers.

Effective March 8, 2013:

1. Employers should begin using the newly revised Form I-9 (Rev. 03/08/13)N for all new hires and reverifications.

2. Employers may continue to use previously accepted revisions (Rev.02/02/09)N and (Rev. 08/07/09) Y until May 7, 2013.

3. After May 7, 2013, employers must only use Form I-9 (Rev. 03/08/13)N.

The revision date of the Form I-9 is printed on the lower left corner of the form.

Employers should not complete a new Form I-9 for current employees if a properly completed Form I-9 is already on file.

Copies of the March 8, 2013 version of Form I-9 (including instructions) are available for download on the USCIS Web site at www.uscis.gov.

Print copies of the March 8, 2013 version of Form I-9 for your agency’s use and destroy all blank copies of previous versions of Form I-9 in your possession. Check the USCIS Web site regularly for the latest official information and guidance.
__________________________________________

* N.B. The March 8, 2013 revised Form I-9 notes that it expires on March 31, 2016. Presumably a replacement form will be promulgated by the Department of Homeland Security prior to that date.

** Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States.

Unemployment resulting from taking advantage of a severance package or an early retirement incentive does not constitute good cause for leaving one's employment


Unemployment resulting from taking advantage of a severance package or an early retirement incentive does not constitute good cause for leaving one's employment
Rubscha (Commissioner of Labor), 2013 NY Slip Op 02609, Appellate Division, Third Department

Robert F. Rubscha’s employer had instituted a voluntary reduction in force program in an effort to avoid eventual layoffs. Although Rubscha, who had been employed for 29 years, had no information that his job would be eliminated, he nevertheless accepted the severance package offered by his employer out of concern that he or his coworkers would be laid off.

When Rubscha filed for unemployment insurance benefits the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board ruled that Rubscha was disqualified from receiving unemployment insurance benefits because he voluntarily left his employment without good cause.

The Appellate Division sustained the Board’s determination, explaining that leaving a job in order to take advantage of a severance or early retirement package when continuing work is available does not constitute good cause for leaving one's employment.

In addition, the court noted that substantial evidence supported the Board's finding that Rubscha received retirement incentives identical to those that he would have been provided had he been laid off and that, as a result, he lacked "a compelling financial incentive to leave his job."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2013/2013_02609.htm

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In which nations are the readers of NYPPL located?


In which nations are the readers of NYPPL located?

Following up on the report that Washington University School of Law is now offering an online Legal English Class for Foreign Lawyers, in response to a number of inquires from readers as to the number of individuals outside the United States that access NYPPL, "Google Statistics" reports that in the last thirty [30] days, in addition to its 14,666 readers in the United States, this LawBlog had readers in the following nations:

France
2,778
Germany
392
Russia
348
United Kingdom
289
Ukraine
220
China
124
Poland
90
Israel
86
Turkey
72

Terminated employee’s reliance on the Doctrine of Legislative Equivalency in challenging her dismissal held misplaced


Terminated employee’s reliance on the Doctrine of Legislative Equivalency in challenging her dismissal held misplaced

The Doctrine of Legislative Equivalency sets out the principle that a position created by a legislative act can be abolished only by a correlative legislative act.

Among the arguments advanced by the Petitioner in this Article 78 proceeding challenging her termination was that her dismissal violated the Doctrine of Legislative Equivalency.

The Appellate Division, however, rejected Petitioner’s contention that the agency's determination violated the Doctrine of Legislative Equivalency, “without merit,” as the position from which she had been removed had not been abolished, implying that she had not been "laid off" withing the meaning of Civil Service Law §§80 or 80-a.* 

Turning to another element in this case, according to the Appellate Division’s ruling, Petitioner was terminated from her position without first being accorded any "quasi-judicial evidentiary hearing."**  Accordingly, said the court, its review was subject to the standard set out in §7803(3) of the Civil Practice law and Rules:

[1] Was the determination was made in violation of lawful procedure;

[2] Was the determination affected by an error of law;

[3] Was the determination arbitrary and capricious; or

[4] Was the determination an abuse of discretion.

Citing Matter of Wooley v New York State Dept. of Correctional Servs., 15 NY3d 275, the Appellate Division said that pursuant to this standard courts will "examine whether the action taken by the agency has a rational basis" and will overturn that action only "where it is taken without sound basis in reason' or regard to the facts." Further, explained the court, "courts must defer to an administrative agency's rational interpretation of its own regulations in its area of expertise," citing Peckham v Calogero, 12 NY3d at 431.

The Appellate Division ruled that Petitioner failed to meet her burden of demonstrating that the determination made by the County of Nassau Department of Assessment terminating her employment lacked a rational basis or was arbitrary and capricious.

As to Petitioner’s contention that the agency's determination violated the Doctrine of Legislative Equivalency, the court rejected this argument as “without merit,” as the position from which she had been removed had not been abolished.

The Attorney General has concluded that there must be an actual and lawful abolishment of a position in order to lawfully remove an employee from his or her position pursuant to §§80 or 80-a (1976 Opinions of the Attorney General 7).

** Presumably Petitioner was not entitled to a pre-termination disciplinary hearing otherwise available pursuant to the Civil Service Law, a collective bargaining agreement or so other statutory procedure.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A court may hold a law enforcement official to a higher standard in evaluating the penalty imposed if he or she is found guilty of misconduct after an administrative disciplinary action


A court may hold a law enforcement official to a higher standard in evaluating the penalty  imposed if he or she is found guilty of misconduct after an administrative disciplinary action  

A correction officer [Petitioner] employed by the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department and who was also a member of the Sheriff's Emergency Response Team, was served with disciplinary charges Civil Service Law §75 that alleged that his treatment of an inmate resulted in an injury to that individual. 

The Hearing Officer sustained two of the three charges* against Petitioner and recommended a penalty of a three-week suspension without pay. The Sheriff adopted the finding of the Hearing Officer that Petitioner was guilty of the two charges but rejected the Hearing Officer’s recommendation as to the penalty to be imposed. Instead of a suspension without pay, the Sheriff determined that that termination was the appropriate penalty.

Petitioner initiated a CPLR Article 78 proceeding challenging the Sheriff's determination but Supreme Court dismissed his petition. The Appellate Division affirmed Supreme Court’s ruling.

The Appellate Division said that Petitioner's sole challenge on appeal is to the penalty imposed by the Sheriff. However, explained the court, its review is "limited to whether the penalty is so disproportionate [to the offense] as to be shocking to one's sense of fairness."

Noting that

[1] “[a]s a law enforcement official, Petitioner's conduct may be held to a higher standard when we evaluate the appropriate penalty to be imposed;.”

[2] that Petitioner “was found to have caused an injury to a defenseless, handcuffed inmate over whose custody petitioner was in charge;” and

[3] the Sheriff explained in that his decision to terminate Petitioner's employment was based, in large measure, upon the fact that, “as a correction officer, Petitioner was required to handle the most difficult and sometimes dangerous individuals” and that "[d]isrespect and brutality of prisoners cannot and will not be tolerated."

the Appellate Division concluded that “[e]ven if there is mitigating evidence that could support a different result — such as Petitioner's otherwise unblemished record of service during his 10 years as a correction officer — we may not substitute our judgment for that of the Sheriff.”

As to penalty imposed, termination, the court said that considering Petitioner's position as a correction officer and a Sheriff's Emergency Response Team member and the serious nature of Petitioner's misconduct — an assault of a handcuffed inmate who petitioner was supervising at the time — as well as petitioner's failure to take responsibility for his actions, “the decision to terminate his employment does not shock our sense of fairness,” citing Pell v Board of Educ. of Union Free School Dist. No. 1 of Towns of Scarsdale & Mamaroneck, Westchester County, 34 NY2d 222.

The third disciplinary charge alleged misconduct based the correction officer’s arrest and being charged with assault in the third degree as a result of this incident. As the correction officer was acquitted of the criminal charge, the Hearing Officer did not sustain that disciplinary charge.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:


Monday, April 22, 2013

Court rules that the disciplinary penalty imposed by the arbitrator after finding the employee guilty “well-tailored to the misconduct” charged


Court rules that the disciplinary penalty imposed by the arbitrator after finding the employee guilty “well-tailored to the misconduct” charged

Disciplinary charges were filed against a teacher including an allegation that the teacher had made a remark comparing the elementary school where she worked "to the shootings and killings of individuals in the Iraq war."

The arbitrator found a teacher guilty of the disciplinary charges filed against her and imposed a fine of $8,000 and directing that the teacher receive up to 48 hours of pedagogical training.

The teacher appealed but Supreme Court confirmed the arbitration award and dismissed the proceeding, which decision was unanimously affirmed by the Appellate Division.
The Appellate Division explained while making the remark, the teacher stood up and feigned pulling the trigger of a gun, which was worrisome to her colleagues.

As to the teacher’s claim that the arbitrator had gone beyond that which he was authorized to hear, the Appellate Division ruled that the There exists no basis to disturb the credibility determinations of the arbitrator arbitrator's reference to teacher's miming of shooting a gun flowed naturally from the credited witnesses' testimony, and did not go beyond what the arbitrator was authorized to hear.

Finding that the charges preferred against teacher specifically notified her of the misconduct that she was accused of and were sufficiently specific to permit petitioner to prepare her defense, the court sustained the arbitrator’s decision and the penalty he imposed, ruling that it did not shock the court’s sense of fairness and in fact was well-tailored to the misconduct of which teacher was found guilty.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli


Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli
Issued during the week ending April 20, 2013 [Click on text highlighted in bold to access the full report] 

DiNapoli Stops $21.2 Million in Dubious Tax Refunds

The State Comptroller’s office has halted $21.2 million in questionable personal income tax refunds after finding 6,353 improper filings among those filed so far this year, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced Tuesday. DiNapoli’s office audited and approved 3.9 million refund requests totaling $3.3 billion in 2013. Another 271,000 refund requests totaling $303 million are expected to be paid in the coming days.


DiNapoli Joins with 500,000 Americans to Urge SEC to Require Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending

The Corporate Reform Coalition calls on newly confirmed SEC Chair Mary Jo White to act now to require disclosure of corporate political spending. A record–breaking 500,000 investors and members of the public have submitted comments supporting the rule, demonstrating the importance of this issue. Chair White should seize this pivotal opportunity to safeguard shareholders by providing them with information necessary for their investing decisions.


DiNapoli Concerned With Rockland County Budget

Rockland County’s 2013 budget contains unreasonable revenue and spending projections that could increase the county’s deficit, warned State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli in a budget review issued Friday.


DiNapoli: Local Governments Submit Property Tax Cap Reports

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced that 2,416 counties, cities, towns, school districts and fire districts have filed their 2013 property tax cap report. More than 18 percent of these entities indicated they plan to override the tax cap in 2013.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli


Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli
Issued during the week ending April 19, 2013 [Click on text highlighted in bold to access the full report] 

Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Contract with Daytop Village, Inc (Follow-Up) (2011-F-18)
The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) oversees programs for preventing and treating alcohol and substance abuse. Many of these programs are provided by not-for-profit organizations. One such contract is with Daytop Village Inc. under which OASAS paid Daytop about $97 million through the end of 2009. In an initial report, auditors found that Daytop did not fulfill its fiscal responsibilities under the contract and as a result, OASAS paid Daytop $11.5 million more than it was entitled to. In a follow-up report, auditors found OASAS has made progress correcting the problems.


Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Chemical Dependency Program Payments to Selected Contractors in New York City (Follow-Up) (2011-F-17)
In an initial report, auditors examined $8.4 million in payments made to the two contractors and found that neither contractor could provide documentation showing that the expenses reimbursed by these payments related to authorized contract activities. Auditors recommended OASAS recover the $8.4 million. In a follow-up report, auditors determined OASAS has made progress in addressing the matters.


New York State Health Insurance Program, United HealthCare: Compensation and Benefit Costs for the Empire Plan for the Period January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2010 (2011-S-50)
The New York State Health Insurance Program provides health insurance coverage to more than 1.2 million active and retired state employees, participating local government employees and school district employees and their dependents. NYSHIP includes several health plan options, of which the Empire Plan is the largest. The Department of Civil Service contracts with United HealthCare (United) to process and pay medical and surgical claims for services provided to Empire Plan members. The state’s contract with United requires all administrative costs charged to the state to be related to United’s administration of the Empire Plan’s medical/surgical program. In addition, a state contractor must maintain complete and accurate records to support its claims for six years. United did not always maintain certain source and summary data to support the charges for time worked by claims and call center staff assigned to the Empire Plan. United also did not have a uniform method to track and account for the time worked by claims center staff.


Department of Health, Medicaid Payments for Excessive Dental Services (Follow-Up) (2012-F-30)
An initial audit report examined Medicaid payments for routine dental services provided during the period September 1, 2004 through August 31, 2009. The audit identified $40 million of excessive dental services that exceeded certain frequency limits. Auditors also determined that if DOH adjusted its Medicaid fees for these services to the averages of other comparable states, it could have saved more than $60 million during the audit period. In a follow-up report, auditors found DOH officials have made progress in addressing several of the issues previously identified. In particular, changes to payment schedules for routine dental services saved Medicaid more than $11 million. However, additional actions still need to be taken.


Department of Motor Vehicles, Motor Vehicle Financial Security and Safety Responsibility Acts Statement of Assessable Expenses for the Three Fiscal Years Ended March 31, 2011 (2012-S-25)
New York State’s Vehicle and Traffic Law stipulates that the DMV commissioner and the Office of the State Comptroller shall ascertain the total amount of expenses the Department of Motor Vehicles incurs in its administration of the Motor Vehicle Financial Security Act and the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act. Auditors found the statements for those acts reflect the expenditures of the two acts for the three fiscal years ended March 31, 2011, in accordance with cash basis accounting.


Also: Statewide Travel Audits of the following entities were issued

As part of a statewide initiative to determine whether the use of travel money by selected government employees was appropriate, auditors looked at travel expenses for the highest-cost travelers in the state for the following state entities:


New York State Department of Financial Services, Selected Employee Travel Expenses (2012-S-77)
Auditors found ten of the highest-cost travelers  worked at the New York State Department of Financial Services and had travel costs totaling $1,248,144. Auditors also examined other travel totaling $627,902. Auditors were only able to audit two of the three years of travel expenditures totaling $1,876,046 because the DFS was not required to and did not maintain records prior to April 2009. The travel expenses for the 27 employees selected for audit were documented and adhered to state travel rules and regulations. Most of the employees were either insurance or bank examiners; while the rest were executive managers and administrative staff. The majority of travel expenses for the 27 department employees included lodging, airfare, train fare, fuel charges and meal reimbursements.


Division of Military and Naval Affairs, Selected Employee Travel Expenses (2012-S-130)
Auditors identified two travel cards used by staff at the Division of Military and Naval Affairs as high risk due to substantial charges for car rentals. The total costs associated with these travel cards was $118,843. Auditors found that the travel expenses for the two travel cards selected for audit were documented and adhered to state travel rules and regulations.


State University of New York, University at Buffalo - Selected Employee Travel Expenses (2012-S-135)
Twelve of the state’s highest cost travelers worked at the University at Buffalo (University) and had travel costs totaling $3,593,928. We also audited one employee with an outlier in fuel expenses that totaled $45,882. In total, auditors examined $3,639,810 of the University’s travel payments. They found the travel expenses for the 13 university employees selected for audit were documented and adhered to state travel rules and regulations. The 13 employees are athletic coaches or administrative staff whose travel consisted primarily of team travel to athletic events.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Neither a judicial or quasi-judicial administrative proceeding may be conducted on a Saturday where such day is kept as a holy day by any party to the case or on a Sunday


Neither a judicial or quasi-judicial administrative proceeding may be conducted on a Saturday  where such day is kept as a holy day by any party to the case or on a Sunday

May judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding be conducted on a Sunday?

This was one of the issues raised by the petitioner in her CPLR Article 78 petition seeking to vacate the appointing authority’s disciplinary determination that resulted in her being dismissed from her position. The petitioner contended that she was impermissibly discharged from her position because one of the dates on which her disciplinary hearing was conducted was a Sunday, citing Judiciary Law §5.

Judiciary Law §5, in pertinent part, provides that: “A court shall not be opened, or transact any business on Sunday, nor shall a court transact any business on a Saturday in any case where such day is kept as a holy day by any party to the case, except to receive a verdict or discharge a jury and for the receipt by the criminal court of the city of New York or a court of special sessions of a plea of guilty and the pronouncement of sentence thereon in any case in which such court has jurisdiction.”

In rebuttal, the appointing authority argued that out of “a multiple day hearing, only one of the days was a Sunday, and therefore the proceedings cannot be held invalid.”

Supreme Court Justice Catherine M. Bartlett disagreed with the argument advanced by the appointing authority, annulling the appointing authority’s' decision and remanding the matter for “a new hearing and determination de novo in compliance with New York law Judiciary Law §5.

The court, citing Jones v E. Meadow Fire Dist., 21 AD2d 129, explained at common law no judicial act could be done on Sunday; and, in the absence of a permissive statute, a judge had no authority to hold court or to conduct a trial on Sunday.  Judiciary Law §5, said the court, was enacted as a substitute for the common-law rule. The Jones court held that “quasi-judicial proceedings such as disciplinary proceedings before a review board fall under Judiciary Law §5's auspices.”*

On a related point, Justice Bartlett also noted that the mandates of Judiciary Law §5 may not be waived by a party as §5 expresses the public policy of the State.

* In Matter of Brody [Owen], 259 App.Div. 720, the Appellate Division held that an arbitration hearing and award were both “illegal and void,” because both occurred on a Sunday and “An arbitration is a judicial proceeding and arbitrators perform a judicial function.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Performing “out of title” work may be lawful under certain circumstances


Performing “out of title” work may be lawful under certain circumstances
New York State Corr. Officers & Police Benevolent Assn., Inc. v Governor's Off. Of Empl. Relations, 2013 NY Slip Op 02445, Appellate Division, Third Department

Kevin Ashby was employed as a correction sergeant, SG 17, by the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision [DOCCS]. Ashby filed two out-of-title work* grievances alleging that on eight occasion in April 2010 and seven occasions in June 2010 he was assigned as shift supervisor, thereby requiring him to perform the work of a correction lieutenant, salary grade 20, and he sought to be compensated accordingly.

The Governor’s Office of Employee Relations [GOER] denied all 15 grievances and Ashby appealed.

The Appellate Division though it noteworthy to comment that during the administrative review processes before GOER the only evidence that was presented concerning the duties that Ashby actually performed on the relevant dates was submitted by DOCCS.

Neither Ashby nor his union submitted any information regarding the facts surrounding the grievances or specific duties that Ashby performed. Although the collective bargaining agreement [CBA] provided the union the right, to submit to DCC a "written brief of the facts surrounding the grievance," during the administrative appeal to the GOER, it never did so.

Ashby, while assigned as shift supervisor, did perform some duties that are listed in the classification standard of a correction lieutenant. However, the Appellate Division noted that “there are many duties that a correction lieutenant performs pursuant to the classification standard that [Ashby] never performed.” In addition, the court said that “While there is some overlap between the duties that [Ashby] performed and the duties of a correction lieutenant, most of the duties that he performed fall within or are a reasonable outgrowth of the duties of his current position.

The Appellate Division sustained GOER’s determination, explaining that “Given the similarities between the duties actually performed by [Ashby] as a shift supervisor and those enumerated in the correction sergeant classification standard, … the infrequent nature of such assignments and the absence of evidence establishing that [Ashby] performed a distinctive aspect of the correction lieutenant job title (namely, supervision of correction sergeants), GOER's determinations are supported by a rational basis in the records.” 

Also noted was that although “Civil Service Law 61(2) seemingly provides an ‘unqualified prohibition against nonemergency out-of-title work, case law has made the standard somewhat more flexible based on practicality’" as demonstrated by the decisions in Sprague v Governor's Off. of Empl. Relations, 13 AD3d at 850; City of Saratoga Springs v Saratoga Springs Civ. Serv. Commn., 90 AD3d at 1400; and Cushing v Governor's Off. of Empl. Relations, 58 AD3d 1095.

May a Taylor Agreement provided that an employee who was offered a temporary or acting higher level position and who was on a Civil Service eligible list for such position shall be required to accept and perform the duties of the higher level position or "the employee shall remove his name from the Civil Service eligible list?"

The employer sought a judgment declaring such a contract provision valid notwithstanding the fact that §61.2 of the Civil Service Law prohibited such out of title work "... except ... during ... a temporary emergency situation.…”

In City of Newburgh v Potter, 168 A.D.2d 779, motion for leave to appeal denied 78 N.Y.2d 857, the Appellate Division concluded that the contract provision was not valid as a waiver of statutory rights and declared the contract provision void and of no force and effect.

Another possible “out-of-title” work situation was the genesis of Yanis v McGuire, 98 A.D.2d 669, affirmed 62 N.Y.2d 723. Yanis, employee with a special skill or talent, his knowledge of both English and Spanish, refused to accept an assignment that required his use of that skill or talent.

Is an employee subject to disciplinary action if he or she refused to accept the assignment? The Appellate Division said he or she could be subjected to disciplinary action based on his or her refusing the assignment.

Yanis, because of his knowledge of both English and Spanish, was instructed to aid detectives in the interrogation of a Spanish speaking witness to a homicide. Yanis failed to report for the assignment and in the disciplinary action that followed the hearing officer found that Yanis' refusal to serve as an interpreter was unjustified and a violation of a reasonable order.

The disciplinary penalty imposed: Yanis could forfeit of six days of vacation credit or he could elect to perform extra tours in lieu thereof.

According to the decision, Yanis had previously served as an interpreter on some 40 occasions in connection with police work and that the "true motive" in refusing to serve as a translator was "his desire to be compensated or to be recognized with a detective designation for what (Yanis) claimed was a special skill."

The dissenting opinion by Justice Asch suggests that the use of such special skill or talent might, under certain circumstances, constitute “out-of-title work.” Accordingly, Justice Asch opined that the assignment could be lawfully refused “unless an emergency situation existed” as the title "interpreter" exists in the New York City Police Department.
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* An out-of-title work assignment exists when an employee has been assigned or compelled to perform the duties of a higher grade, without a concomitant increase in pay, frequently, recurrently and for long periods of time . . ." (see Caruso v Mayor of Vil. of S. Glens Falls, 278 AD2d 608

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2013/2013_02445.htm

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A CPLR Article 78 challenge to the validity of an employee’s resignation must be filed within four months of the date of the resignation


A CPLR Article 78 challenge to the validity of an employee’s resignation must be filed within four months of the date of the resignation
Reo v Village of Lawrence, 2013 NY Slip Op 02403, Appellate Division, Second Department

Daniel S. Reo was initially employed by the Village of Lawrence in the title Laborer.
According to the decision, in 2007 Reo resigned from this position to accept a position Sewer Plant Attendant with the Village and served in this title until 2009, when he resigned and sought reemployment in his former position, Laborer, with the Village.

As this would be a new Laborer position the Village was required to secure approval of that position from the Nassau County Civil Service Commission pursuant to Civil Service Law §22.*

As a condition of its approval of this new position the Commission asked the Village for its assurance that Reo “would only be performing duties appropriate for the laborer title.” The Village, however, decided to give those assurances to the Commission and terminated Roe’s employment effective January 7, 2011.**

Roe filed a petition pursuant to Article 78 of the CPLR challenging “the validity of his resignations in 2007 and 2009 and sought a court order directing the Village to reinstate him. Supreme Court denied the petition and dismissed the proceeding.

The Appellate Division said that Roe’s challenges to the validity of his resignations*** were barred by the four-month statute of limitations applicable to proceedings pursuant to CPLR Article 78. Further, said the court, “the termination of [Roe’s] employment in the new position of Laborer was not arbitrary and capricious or affected by an error of law."

* CSL §22, in pertinent part, provides that “[b]efore any new position in the service of a civil division shall be created … the proposal therefor, including a statement of the duties of the position, shall be referred to the municipal commission having jurisdiction and such commission shall furnish a certificate stating the appropriate civil service title for the proposed position …. “

** Although the decision is silent regarding Roe’s employment status between 2009 and January 2011, presumably he was appointed to “temporary position” of Laborer pending the Commission’s classification, approval and certification of the new position pursuant to CSL §22.


*** Typically once the employee has delivered his or her resignation to the appointing authority or its designee, he or she may not withdraw or rescind the resignation without the approval of the appointing authority. For example, 4 NYCRR 5.3(c),which applies to employees in the classified service of the State and public authorities, public benefit corporations and other agencies for which the Civil Service Law is administered by the State Department of Civil Service, provides that “A resignation may not be withdrawn, cancelled or amended after it is delivered to the appointing authority, without the consent of the appointing authority.” Many local civil service commissions and personnel officers have adopted a similar rule. 

The decision is posted on the Internet at: http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2013/2013_02403.htm

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Courts will reject an untimely demand to submit a matter to arbitration


Courts will reject an untimely demand to submit a matter to arbitration
Town of Orangetown v Rockland County Policemen's Benevolent Assn., 2013 NY Slip Op 02408, Appellate Division, Second Department

In this CPLR Article 75 the Town of Orangetown petitioned Supreme Court seeking an order to permanently stay an arbitration demanded by the Rockland County Policemen’s Benevolent Association and the Town of Orangetown Policemen's Benevolent Association.

Both Associations, on the other hand, asked the court to issue an order to “compel arbitration.”

Although the Town contended that demand for arbitration was untimely, Supreme Court granted the Associations’ petition. The Appellate Division, however, revered the lower court’s ruling, vacated the order, and granting the Town’s petition to permanently stay the arbitration.

The Appellate Division explained that under New York statutory and case law, a court may address three threshold questions on a motion to compel or to stay arbitration:

1. Whether the parties made a valid agreement to arbitrate;

2. If so, whether the agreement has been complied with; and

3. Whether the claim sought to be arbitrated would be time-barred if it were asserted in State court.

Finding that the grievance the Association sought to be arbitrated was time-barred under the applicable 18-month statute of limitations, the Appellate Division held that Supreme Court erred in denying the Town’s petition to permanently stay arbitration and granting the Association’s cross motion to compel arbitration.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

Monday, April 15, 2013

A board may not appoint one of its own members to a vacant position under it jurisdiction

A board may not appoint one of its own members to a vacant position under it jurisdiction
Fishman v Board of Educ. of S. Country Cent. Sch. Dist, 2013 NY Slip Op 02394, Appellate Division, Second Department

Roberta Fishman filed a CPLR Article 78 petition challenged a resolution of the Board of Education of the South Country Central School District appointing Gregory C. Miglino, Jr. to the position of Building Services Administrator Miglino was a then member of the Board.

Supreme Court’s ruling annulling the Board’s resolution appointing Miglino to the position. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Paul J. Baisley, "… the Court determines and declares that the Board Action in creating the position … and appointing its member and president Gregory C. Miglino, Jr. to the position was arbitrary and capricious … and accordingly is null and void.”

Miglino appealed the decision but the Appellate Division affirmed Justice Baisley's decision. The Appellate Division held that Supreme Court had correctly determined that the action of the Board in appointing one of its present members to the position of Building Services Administrator was “illegal and improper,” citing Wood v Town of Whitehall, 120 Misc 124, affd206 App Div 786.*

In Whitehall the court ruled that a board may not appoint one of its members to a position under its jurisdiction as such an action is contrary to public policy and the general welfare. Further, the Attorney General has indicated that the recusal of the member of the board to be appointed does not remedy the conflict of interests (1995 Informal Opinions of the Attorney General1074).

The Association of Towns has observed that “in the absence of a state law, local law or session law to the contrary,” a board is bound by the Whitehall doctrine.

The Whitehall decision is posted on the Internet at:

The Fishman decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2013/2013_02394.htm

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli


Selected reports and information published by New York State's Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli
Issued during the week ending April 12, 2013 [Click on text highlighted in bold to access the full report] 


Town of Amsterdam – Supervisor’s Records and Reports (Montgomery County)
The town supervisor does not maintain timely or accurate accounting records for the town. Therefore, the accounting records do not support the AUDs filed in 2010 and 2011. The town board does not receive all the financial information it needs to monitor the town’s financial operations. Additionally, auditors found discrepancies between bank reconciliations and account balances documented in the town’s accounting records.


Village of Cuba – Sewer Fund Financial Condition and Records and Reports (Allegany County)
The village board did not adopt budgets for the sewer fund that provided sufficient revenues to finance expenditures, because revenues were consistently overestimated. Auditors also found that the clerk-treasurer did not maintain the village’s accounting records in a complete and accurate manner. Specifically, cash, accounts receivable and accounts payable were misstated, which resulted in the operating funds’ fiscal health appearing to be more favorable.


Village of Dannemora – Internal Controls Over Cash Receipts (Clinton County)
The village has informal procedures over the collection of cash receipts for water and sewer rents and property taxes.  The clerk-treasurer prepares billings, enters receipts into the accounting system, reconciles customer accounts, prepares bank deposits and reconciles bank statements without any additional verification or assistance.


Village of Delanson – Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Operations (Schenectady County)
The village clerk and treasurer both perform incompatible cash disbursement duties and compensating controls have not been established. The village board does not require claims to be adequately documented or appropriately audit and approve all claims. Also, the clerk did not collect all interest and penalties due on overdue real property tax and water rent payments or properly record and report to the county unpaid water rents for re-levy.


Downtown Ithaca Business Improvement District – Disbursements (Tompkins County)
The Executive Director did not ensure that disbursements were for proper DIBID purposes. Although the claims reviewed by auditors appeared to be for reasonable DIBID expenditures, without proper supporting documentation such as receipts, invoices, or bills attached to the claims, taxpayers do not have any assurance that these monies were used for valid DIBID purposes.


Village of Hoosick Falls – Internal Controls Over Selected Operations (Rensselaer County)
The village board has not adopted policies establishing responsibilities and duties for handling cash and maintaining accounting records. As a result, the treasurer has filed the village’s annual financial report an average of 221 days past the due date from 2008 through 2011. Further, the board has not implemented compensating controls to address the lack of segregation of duties performed by the treasurer.


Village of Nelsonville – Financial Operations (Putnam County)
The village board did not develop policies and procedures for the clerk-treasurer to follow when performing cash receipts and disbursement duties and did not audit the clerk-treasurer’s financial records. Further, the board did not ensure bank reconciliations were performed or that the village payroll was properly certified.


Town of Schroon – Internal Controls Over Transfer Station Operations (Essex County)
The town does not reconcile the amount of money collected with the amount of trash disposed at the transfer station. Auditors found that over a three-month period in 2012, the weight of the solid waste the town paid to dispose of at the county landfill exceeded the amount of trash accounted for as being received at the transfer station, resulting in approximately $10,000 in missing revenues. Auditors also found weak internal controls over cash receipts and poor monitoring of solid waste received at the transfer station.


Village of Victory – Audit Follow Up (Saratoga County)
Auditors found that the village has made limited progress in implementing our recommendations. Of the eight audit recommendations, two recommendations were implemented, four recommendations were partially implemented and two recommendations were not implemented.


Helping Students Get Course Credit: Credit Recovery Programs in School Districts (2012MS-8)
Auditors found that all eight school districts reviewed provided evidence to show, to the State Education Department’s (SED) satisfaction, that Credit Recovery Programs (CRPs) aligned with state learning standards. SED’s current measure of satisfactory alignment, however, is very easy to meet. More explicit expectations for demonstrating alignment with current standards would provide better assurance that online CRPs provide intensive instruction in a subject that is equivalent to teacher-provided classroom instruction.


Fabius-Pompey Central School District – Budget Review (Onondaga County)
Auditors found that the significant revenue and expenditure projections in the proposed budget are reasonable. The school district’s proposed budget currently includes a tax levy that is over the statutory limit by $58,246.


North Colonie Central School District – Claims Processing (Albany County)
The school board adopted claims processing policies which require all claims to be audited prior to payment except for certain allowed exceptions. District policy requires the claims auditor to ensure that all claims are properly authorized, itemized, supported and that goods and services have been received in the amount and price as ordered prior to payment.


Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

Caution:

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