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Artaserse v. Department of Civil Service

Decided: September 30, 1955.

ANDREW ARTASERSE, FRED BIEL, THOMAS DOBBINS, HERMAN DONCHIN, NICHOLAS GALLO, JOHN GUMBRECHT, GEORGE GUNTHER, FELIX ISOM, JOSEPH MULLER, JAMES O'BRIEN, JOHN SCHNABLE, OSCAR TREGER, JOHN WILSON AND EDWARD WOLFE, APPELLANTS,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL SERVICE OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY AND LAWRENCE A. WHIPPLE, DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY OF THE CITY OF JERSEY CITY, RESPONDENTS



Clapp, Jayne and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Jayne, J.A.D.

Jayne

The present appeal has occasioned our review of certain proceedings which at the instance of the appellants were pursued in the Department of Civil Service.

The appellants are sergeants of police in the police department of the City of Jersey City. They sought to attain the requisite eligibility for promotion to the position of lieutenant and on November 6, 1953 submitted to a promotion examination conducted by the Department of Civil Service.

Subsequently the appellants seem to have entertained the conviction that they had failed to pass the written test, for their counsel conferred on their behalf with the Chief Examiner, and the Secretary and the President of the Civil Service Commission on December 18, 1953. This conference, although of informal inception, actually inaugurated the liberal and deliberate consideration the commissioners and their representatives have devoted to the criticisms of the appellants.

The criticisms of the written examination were centered upon the nature and substance of certain questions of a legalistic tenor propounded to the candidates, and upon the accuracy of the adopted set of answers thereto utilized by the examiners in determining the test scores. This was the range of the appellants' remonstrance as manifested by the communication addressed by their counsel to the attention of the Secretary of the Civil Service Department on December 24, 1953. Its significance recommends its quotation ad literatim:

"Gentlemen:

This will serve to confirm the arrangements agreed upon following the conference between Dr. Clee and Mr. Russo for the Department and Maurice C. Brigadier and myself on behalf of a group of Jersey City Police Sergeants who took the recent Lieutenant's examination.

For the present purpose, we are addressing ourselves, exclusively, to the questions and answers on the examination which were legal in their context. In order to be able to give you a precise memorandum of the respects in which these questions and the answers ascribed to them are challenged, we shall prepare specific critiques in relation to each individual question, which you would then be in a position to submit to such authority as you desire to consult. For this purpose, I am setting down the particular questions involved, in order that you may be able to supply us with the precise wording of each particular question, enabling us to make a meaningful analysis.

They are:

Nos. 4, 7, 11, 13, 15, 20, 29, 44 and 48.

Needless to say, this will confirm that the questions which are supplied us will be kept in confidence and not disclosed to anyone so as to impair their utilization in future exams.

As I understand it, after you have an opportunity to discuss our critique with your own authority, there will be an opportunity for us to again confer in order to decide what proper course should

be taken to cure any inequities arising out of inaccuracies which will be found to have existed in the ...


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