Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Civil Service Law §75 requires that a hearing officer appointed to conduct a disciplinary hearing be so designated in writing by the appointing authority


Civil Service Law §75 requires that a hearing officer appointed to conduct a disciplinary hearing be so designated in writing by the appointing authority
Stapleton v Ponte, 2016 NY Slip Op 02658, Appellate Division, Second Department

The Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction, adopting and rejecting parts of the recommendation of an Administrative Law Judge [ALJ] following a hearing conducted pursuant to Civil Service Law §75, found Kadar Stapleton guilty of using excessive force upon an inmate and terminated his employment.

Supreme Court denied Stapleton’s CPLR Article 78 petition challenging the Commissioner’s determination and he appealed.

There was but one issue Stapleton raised in his appeal for the Appellate Division to consider: Did the Administrative Law Judge have the lawful authority and jurisdiction to conduct his §75 disciplinary hearing and “make findings and a recommendation?”

The Appellate Division, noting that Civil Service Law §75 governed the disciplinary proceeding at issue in this case, explained that §75 requires that "[t]he hearing upon such charges shall be held by the officer or body having the power to remove the person against whom such charges are preferred, or by a deputy or other person designated by such officer or body in writing for that purpose."

Further, said the court, the failure to designate a hearing officer for a disciplinary hearing in writing, as required by Civil Service Law §75(2), “is a jurisdictional defect that renders the hearing officer's determination null and void.”

In this instance, however, the Appellate Division found that Supreme Court had correctly determined that the ALJ had been properly designated to conduct Stapleton’s §75 disciplinary hearing and to make findings of fact. Further, were the ALJ to find Stapleton guilty of one or more of the charges filed against him, the ALJ was properly authorized to make a recommendation as to the penalty to be imposed.

As the Appellate Division found that Supreme Court properly denied Stapleton’s petition and dismissed the Article 78 proceeding, the court dismissed his appeal.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2016/2016_02658.htm

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