Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Disciplinary charges must be served on the target of the disciplinary action on or before the expiration of the period set by the controlling statute of limitations


Disciplinary charges must be served on the target of the disciplinary action on or before the expiration of the period set by the controlling statute of limitations
Lebron v Village of Spring Valley, 2016 NY Slip Op 06500, Appellate Division, Second Department

Following a disciplinary hearing, the hearing officer found David Lebron, a Village of Spring Valley police officer, guilty of certain charges of misconduct. The hearing officer than recommend that Lebron be terminated from his position with the Spring Valley Police Department. The Spring Valley Village Board of Trustees adopted the recommendation of the hearing officer and dismissed Lebron from his position.

Lebron file a petition pursuant to CPLR Article 78 challenging his termination, contending, among other things, that:

The Board's determination was not supported by substantial evidence.

Addressing the issue of the alleged lack of “substantial evidence,” the Appellate Division simply noted that the in brief submitted to the court Lebron “did not contend that the Board's determination was not supported by substantial evidence.”

The charges served against him were time-barred because they were served more than 60 days after the Department's Chief of Police became aware of the facts upon which the charges were based.

As to the question of the charges being timely served, the Appellate Division explained that the applicable statute of limitations are set out in The Rockland County Police Act, §7 of Chapter 526 of the Law of 1936. This section provides that the disciplinary charges must be served on the target of the disciplinary action within 60 days after the facts upon which the charges are based became known to the Village Board of Trustees. Here, said the court, there was no dispute that the charges were served upon Lebron within 60 days after the facts upon which the charges were based became known to the Board.

Accordingly, the court found that the disciplinary charges served on Lebron were not time-barred.

Lebron also argued that he had suffered “added stigma” as the result of the “circumstances of the disciplinary procedure.”  The Appellate Division, however, decided that this contention was without merit. In the words of the Appellate Division, “[n]othing in the record suggests that, as a result of the termination of his employment as a police officer with the Department, [Lebron] is prohibited from obtaining future law enforcement employment, or that he is subjected to a public registry of any sort.”

Lebron also contended that his due process rights were violated by the hearing officer's declining to reopen the disciplinary hearing to consider “newly discovered evidence.

Citing Russell v Del Castillo, 181 AD2d 680, the Appellate Division concluded that “the hearing officer providently exercised his discretion in denying [Lebron’s] application to reopen the hearing on the basis of newly discovered evidence."

The Russell decision is posted on the Internet at:

The Lebron decision is posted on the Internet at:

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/

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