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Define That Term #87

Disciplinary Proceeding Can Proceed Despite Pending Criminal Charges

There is a recent Fourth Department decision that might be of interest to those of you who handle public sector labor law matters.  In Matter of Watson v City of Jamestown, 2006 NY Slip Op 02078, the Court considered the issue of whether a disciplinary proceeding against a police officer should be stayed pending resolution of related criminal charges against the officer. 

The Court concluded that:

"Prohibition is an extraordinary remedy to be granted only if action taken or to be undertaken is clearly without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction" (Matter of Mountain, 89 AD2d 632, 633). "[A] criminal defendant has no right to stay a disciplinary proceeding pending the outcome of a related criminal trial" (id.; see Matter of Geary, 80 Misc 2d 963, 965). We reject the contention of petitioner that a stay is required in order to protect his constitutional rights.

I'm not sure where the other Departments stand on this issue, but this decision is worth taking note of for those who handle these types of matters in the Fourth Department.


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Harvey Randall

Pending criminal matters

The appointing authority has no obligation to postpone disciplinary action simply even if the county District Attorney requests administrative action be postponed. This was the point made by the court in Levine v New York City Transit Authority, 70 AD2d 900 (2nd Dept 1979), affirmed 49 NY2d 747 (1980)]

Sometimes an employer wishes to proceed with a disciplinary action at the same time as criminal charges are pending. Does this constitute "double jeopardy"? Courts have ruled this is not double jeopardy. For example, in Matter of the Haverstraw-Stony Point CSD, 24 Ed. Dept. Rep. 466; the Commissioner of Education ruled that a Section 3020-a hearing panel is not required to adjourn an administrative disciplinary hearing when parallel criminal proceedings are underway.

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