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Dodd v. Riper

Decided: January 17, 1947.

WILLIAM DODD ET AL., PROSECUTORS-APPELLANTS,
v.
WALTER D. VAN RIPER, ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND ACTING PROSECUTOR OF THE PLEAS OF HUDSON COUNTY, RESPONDENT



On appeal from the Supreme Court.

For the appellants, Maurice C. Brigadier.

For the respondent, Walter D. Van Riper, Attorney-General, per se (George M. Eichler, of counsel).

Wells

The opinion of the court was delivered by

WELLS, J. This is an appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Court dismissing a writ of certiorari allowed to

review the action taken by the respondent in terminating the services of the appellants as county detectives in Hudson County.

On January 20th, 1944, the Civil Service Commission certified to Daniel O'Reagen, the then Prosecutor of Hudson County, the names of the appellants, with others, to fill fourteen vacancies in the position of county detective, Prosecutor's office. One of the conditions of such certification was stated as being "All appointments are made for a probationary period of three months." On the same date Prosecutor O'Reagen appointed the appellants as county detectives, which appointments were duly approved by the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

On February 4th, 1944, the respondent qualified as Attorney-General of the State of New Jersey, and pursuant to such office assumed the powers and duties of Prosecutor of Hudson County, the term of Mr. O'Reagen having expired without further appointment being made. Several days later the respondent appointed four Assistant Attorneys-General and assigned them to work in the Hudson County Prosecutor's office. Thereafter these assistants executed their assigned duties continuously over a period which included the date of the action complained of in this appeal.

On April 13th, 1944, the respondent directed a memorandum to the chief of county detectives which in substance required the appellants, with others, to prepare in their own handwriting a report showing the character of work which they had been doing during the past year with a further statement of the individual's opinion as to the type of work within the office for which he felt he was best fitted. Each of the appellants prepared such a report by April 17th, the date required, and all of the reports were then submitted to the respondent. Thereafter, on April 18th, 1944, the respondent addressed a letter to each of the appellants which noted that the appointment as county detective "was for a probationary period of three months" and then stated, "I am compelled to inform you that your conduct and capacity as a detective in the office of the Prosecutor of the Pleas has not been satisfactory to me, and that you will not receive an absolute

appointment. Your services therefore will be terminated as of April 20th, 1944."

By communication dated April 24th, 1944, the respondent advised the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders that the services of the appellants terminated on April 20th. This was merely a notification of termination of services, listing the names of the persons concerned, and gave no reasons for such termination. A copy of this communication was directed to the Civil Service Commission, and although some confusion appears as to handling, there is evidence to show that on September 20th, 1944, such a copy was forwarded from the Newark to the Trenton office of the Commission. There is further evidence to show that on September 21st, 1944, official approval was given ...


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