Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A hearing officer is entitled to weigh the parties' conflicting evidence and to assess the credibility of witnesses where room for choice exists


A hearing officer is entitled to weigh the parties' conflicting evidence and to assess the credibility of witnesses where room for choice exists
Tamsen v Village of Kenmore, 2016 NY Slip Op 00785, Appellate Division, Fourth Department

The Appellate Division rejected Jeffrey Tamsen’s challenge to his being terminated from his position as a firefighter after the Hearing Officer found him guilty of the disciplinary charges filed against him.

Concluding that the Hearing Officer’s determination was supported by substantial evidence, i.e, “… relevant proof as a reasonable mind may accept as adequate to support a conclusion or ultimate fact," the court rejected Tamsen’s claim that the Hearing Officer erred in determining that he misrepresented certain facts in the course of the disciplinary hearing.

Conceding that Tamsen presented “evidence to the contrary,” the court explained that a hearing officer is entitled to weigh the parties' conflicting evidence and to assess the credibility of witnesses and courts may not weigh the evidence or reject a hearing officer’s decision in that regard “where the evidence is conflicting and room for a choice exists.”

Citing Kelly v Safir, 96 NY2d 32, rearg denied 96 NY2d 854, the Appellate Division concluded that the penalty imposed, termination, was not "so disproportionate to the offense[s] as to be shocking to one's sense of fairness" and thus did not constitute an abuse of discretion and dismissed Tamsen’s appeal.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
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