For affirmance -- Chief Justice Weintraub, and Justices Heher, Wachenfeld, Burling, Jacobs, Francis and Proctor. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Francis, J.
The Civil Service Department dismissed plaintiffs' objections to an impending competitive examination for the position of Chief Probation Officer of Morris County. The subsequent appeal from that order was certified on our motion prior to argument in the Appellate Division.
Selection of a chief probation officer for Morris County became necessary because of the retirement of the incumbent. The position has been placed in the classified category of the Civil Service and the ultimate power of appointment
resides in the county judges or a majority of them. N.J.S.A. 2 A:168-5; and see Walsh v. Dept. of Civil Service, 32 N.J. Super. 39 (App. Div. 1954), certification granted 17 N.J. 182 (1955). Exploration by the Chief Examiner and Secretary of the Department of Civil Service and his assistants of the possibility of promotional examination within the probation department, and consultation thereon with the appointing authority, led to the conclusion that such examination was impracticable because only one person in the department was eligible. See N.J.S.A. 11:10-7, 11:22-34. The judges then being desirous of having the names of three eligibles certified in accordance with N.J.S.A. 11:10-6, a competitive examination open to citizens of 12 months' residence in New Jersey was ordered. After conference with the Director of Examinations, the Chief Examiner and Secretary adopted and promulgated the qualifications for the post and fixed the date and place of the test. The qualifications stated are:
"1. Graduation from college preferably with specialization in the social sciences and related fields, supplemented by two years of full time graduate study in an approved school of social work. For applicants who do not offer the two years of graduate study, three years of full time work experience on the professional level in a welfare agency, specializing in children's or family problems, or case work in the correctional field may be accepted in lieu thereof.
2. Seven years of professional experience on a full time basis in probation, parole or related fields dealing with the rehabilitation of criminal offenders or juvenile or domestic relations work. Two years of this experience shall have been in a supervisory or administrative capacity."
The six plaintiffs are permanent probation officers of Morris County. One of them, Robert J. Myers, has been functioning as the acting chief probation officer. They attack the proposed examination on the grounds (1) that the Chief Examiner and Secretary of the Department of Civil Service has no authority to order an open competitive test rather than a promotional one, and (2) that the qualifications for admission to the test as promulgated by him are arbitrary and unreasonable.
The Chief Examiner and Secretary is invested with broad general powers. He is appointed by the President of the Civil Service Commission with the approval of the Governor. N.J.S.A. 11:2-1. He is required to be "thoroughly familiar with the principles and methods of personnel administration generally recognized by those in charge of employment work for large public and private employers * * *." N.J.S.A. 11:2-3. He is empowered to "administer the work of the commission and perform such other duties as are conferred upon him by this Title, or by rule or regulation of the commission, under the direction and supervision of the president of the commission." N.J.S.A. 11:2-6. Under N.J.S.A. 11:6-2 e authority is granted to him to "[t]est and pass, in the manner hereinafter provided, upon the qualification of applicants for appointment to or promotion in the State classified service, and establish employment * * * lists for the various classes; [and to] certify the names of persons eligible for employment, promotion or re-employment * * *." (It is not necessary to decide whether the position of chief probation officer is in the state or county service. See Falcey v. Civil Service Commission, 16 N.J. 117, 122 (1954).) And when he considers it essential in order to meet the needs of the service, he is directed to hold tests from time to time "for the purpose of establishing employment lists for the various positions in the classified service." N.J.S.A. 11:9-1. These tests:
"* * * shall be competitive, free, and except as to such limitations as to age, residence, health, habits, character, sex and other qualifications as may be considered desirable by the chief examiner and secretary and specified in the public announcement of the test, open to citizens who may be lawfully appointed to any position in the class for which they are held, who have resided in this state for at least twelve months prior to the date of the test." N.J.S.A. 11:9-2. (Emphasis added)
"* * * may be written, oral, physical or in the form of a demonstration of skill, or any combination ...