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Marvel v. County of Camden

Decided: June 5, 1947.

ALBERT S. MARVEL, JR., PROSECUTOR,
v.
COUNTY OF CAMDEN, SAMUEL C. BERRY, WILLIAM W. MESSENGER, ANDREW F. GANSER, RALPH GITHENS, JAMES KERSHAW, OSCAR MOORE AND HAROLD F. WALTERS, RESPONDENTS



On certiorari.

For the prosecutor, Alexander Feinberg (Samuel P. Orlando, of counsel).

For the respondents, George G. Tartar and Joseph W. Cowgill (Carl Kisselman, of counsel).

Before Justices Bodine, Heher and Wachenfeld.

Wachenfeld

The opinion of the court was delivered by

WACHENFELD, J. This case presents the sole question whether or not appointments made by the Board of Freeholders of the County of Camden to the offices of clerk of the board and county auditor are valid when made for a term

of three years when in fact the vacancies were for lesser unexpired terms arising from the resignation of the preceding incumbent. The propriety of proceeding by certiorari is not questioned nor is there injected any issue of what constitutes an "office."

On January 11th, 1945, the Board of Freeholders of Camden County reappointed the then incumbent, Earl Armstrong, as clerk of the board and county auditor to succeed himself for a term of three years commencing January 21st, 1945, following the expiration of his preceding three-year term for each office. Effective December 23d, 1946, he tendered his resignation from those offices, which was accepted by the board on December 30th, 1946. On the latter date, by resolution, the board appointed the prosecutor, Albert S. Marvel, Jr., clerk of the board and county auditor for the term of three years and he was immediately sworn.

A new board which had been elected the preceding November and which was predominantly of the opposite political party, assumed office on January 1st, 1947, and on the same day appointed Harry L. Cranmer to both offices for the unexpired terms. The resolution recited that the preceding appointment of the prosecutor was null and void since made for a term of three years and not for the unexpired terms.

The board has only recognized and paid the latter appointee although the prosecutor has held himself ready and willing to perform any and all duties of each office and has reported daily for work. No charges for dismissal or removal were ever instituted.

On the authority of Murphy v. Freeholders of Hudson County, 92 N.J.L. 244, and Gallaher v. Camden County, 129 Id. 290, it is contended that, being a holder of an office for which the term is fixed by law, the prosecutor could not be removed without cause, notice and an opportunity to defend. That is true only if it is determined that the appointment for the three-year term was within the power of the board and therefore regularly and legally made. Gallaher v. Camden County, supra.

The authority to elect a clerk of the board and a county auditor for terms of three years is ...


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