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November 03, 2014

Removal of a public officer from his or her office


Removal of a public officer from his or her office
Kalodukas v Berentsen, 2014 NY Slip Op 07406, Appellate Division, Third Department

Glenda Kalodukas and other citizen residents of the Village of Bloomingburg in Sullivan County [Kalodukas], filed a petition in the Appellate Division pursuant to Public Officers Law §36* seeking to have the Appellate Division remove Mark Berentsen from his position of Mayor of the Village, alleging, among other things, that he violated General Municipal Law Article 18.**

Berentsen asked the court to dismiss the petition arguing, among other things, that the proceeding was moot in view of the fact that he was unsuccessful in his bid for reelection and no longer held the office of Mayor. The Appellate Division agreed and dismissed Kalodukas’ petition.

The court explained §36 of the Public Officers Law provides, as relevant in this action, that a village officer may be removed from office for "misconduct, maladministration, malfeasance or malversation in office." As Berentsen had lost his bid for reelection and no longer helds the public office from which Kalodukas sought to have him removed, the Appellate Division said that “the proceeding is undoubtedly moot.” 

In addition, the court addressed Kalodukas’ argument that the petition was not moot because Berentsen’s removal would prevent him from holding public office in the future. The Appellate Division, in a footnote, said that findings against an official in a removal proceeding pursuant to §36 of the Public Officers Law would not a bar his or her subsequent election to public office.***

* Such an application for removal may be made to the appellate division 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. The officer is to given at least eight days notice and a copy of the charge[s] upon which the application will be made must be served with such notice.

** Article 18 is captioned Conflicts of Interest of Municipal Officers and Employees”

*** In contrast, the court noted that Article VI, § 22 [h] of the State Constitution “A judge or justice removed by the [C]ourt of [A]ppeals shall be ineligible to hold other judicial office."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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