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State v. Clark

Decided: May 3, 1954.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL SERVICE, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT, AND JOSEPH M. NEALON, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PRESIDENT OF LOCAL NO. 17 OF THE NEW JERSEY STATE PATROLMEN'S BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION, INC., WILLIAM MCDONNELL, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS VICE-PRESIDENT OF SAID LOCAL, JOHN P. BOUTINEAU, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SECRETARY OF SAID LOCAL, AND JOHN LEAHY, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS TREASURER OF SAID LOCAL, INTERVENING PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
JAMES P. CLARK, ARTHUR J. WILSON AND EDWARD F. ZELINSKI, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS MEMBERS OF THE BOULEVARD COMMISSION OF THE COUNTY OF HUDSON, AND THE BOULEVARD COMMISSIONERS OF THE COUNTY OF HUDSON, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



On appeal from the Superior Court, Law Division.

For affirmance -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Heher, Oliphant, Wachenfeld, Burling, Jacobs and Brennan. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Wachenfeld, J.

Wachenfeld

The query here is whether the adoption of the Civil Service Law by a referendum in the County of Hudson made the law applicable to the Boulevard Commission of Hudson County and its employees.

Chapter 106 of the Laws of 1898, now R.S. 27:17-2 et seq., created boulevard commissions in counties having county boulevards. When it was passed, the County of Hudson had such a road and hence the statute had the effect of creating the Boulevard Commissioners of the County of Hudson, who are the defendants in this cause.

On January 1, 1912 the Civil Service Law became applicable to the County of Hudson, having been adopted by the voters of the county at the general election in 1911 pursuant to provisions of chapter 156 of the Laws of 1908 (as amended, now R.S. 11:20-1 et seq.).

This law is now embodied in Title 11 of the current Revised Statutes and under chapter 20 thereof the manner in which the provisions of the Civil Service Law may become effective in counties, municipalities or school districts is prescribed, providing for its adoption in any such subdivisions by referendum at a general or municipal election.

At the time the Civil Service Law was adopted by referendum, the then members of the commission recognized that it applied to them and their employees and they accordingly complied with the law and submitted their regular payroll to the Civil Service Commission for certification. From 1898 until 1952 the governing body of the County of Hudson, the board of chosen freeholders, considered the boulevard commission as a board or body of the county government and

treated its annual request for funds in the same manner as those of other county agencies. It scrutinized the requests and approved, disapproved or reduced them as it saw fit.

In 1952 the board of chosen freeholders, relying upon R.S. 27:17-7, reduced the requested funds of the boulevard commission and the issue arose as to whether or not the board had a right so to do. We passed upon the issue so framed in Nolan v. Fitzpatrick, 9 N.J. 477 (1952), and agreed with the boulevard commission, holding it was "an independent political corporation," and the financial obligation upon the county was mandatory.

Stimulated by this decision and admittedly basing its inspiration entirely upon the adjudication so made, the commission came to a new and different conclusion and decided that the 1911 adoption of civil service for Hudson County was not now applicable. Accordingly, in January 1953 it failed and refused to submit its regular payroll to the Civil Service Commission for certification. The Department of Civil Service thereupon instituted these proceedings in lieu of prerogative writ under Rule 3:81 to compel the submission of the names of the boulevard's employees within the classified service and the wages and compensation to be paid to each at the regular pay intervals from January 16, 1953 agreeable to the provisions of R.S. 11:22-20.

After the filing of the complaint, officers of Local 17 of the New Jersey State Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, of which the police employees of the Boulevard Commissioners of the County of Hudson are members, were permitted to intervene as co-plaintiffs by order of the court. The plaintiffs moved for summary judgment and the court below granted the motion, thus determining that the adoption of civil service for the county applied to the commission. From the judgment so rendered the commission appeals, and we certified the cause by our own motion.

The appellants assert there could be no impact of the provisions of the Civil Service Law upon a county, municipality or school district except through a referendum as provided in ...


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