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Nosal v. City of Garfield

Decided: June 17, 1959.

ANDREW NOSAL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CITY OF GARFIELD, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



On appeal from Superior Court, Law Division.

For affirmance -- Chief Justice Weintraub, and Justices Burling, Jacobs, Francis, Proctor, Hall and Schettino. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Burling, J.

Burling

Plaintiff appeals from a summary judgment of the Superior Court, Law Division, entered in favor of the defendants, dismissing plaintiff's complaint and dissolving the ad interim restraint obtained upon the filing of the complaint. We certified the cause on our motion prior to argument and while pending in the Superior Court, Appellate Division.

Plaintiff, a veteran of World War II, was honorably discharged from the United States Army on February 4, 1946. Thereafter, on April 16, 1947 he was duly appointed a police officer of the City of Garfield. On February 2, 1954 he was

designated, pursuant to a resolution adopted by the mayor and council, as municipal court clerk of Garfield.

The Garfield police ordinance, adopted in 1950, provides in pertinent part:

"One of the members of the Police Dept. shall be designated as Court Clerk to the Municipal Court of the City of Garfield. * * * He shall be relieved from all other regular duties as a member of the Police Dept. as long as he remains in the position of the Clerk of the Court. As compensation for such special services he shall receive in addition to his regular salary the sum of $300.00 per annum. * * * Nothing in this Ordinance shall be construed to effect the rank or tenure of office of such clerk and he shall always be considered the same as all other officers and members of the Police Dept. and he shall be entitled to all the rights, privileges, salary and benefits which shall accrue to him through the same period of service as a regular member of the Police Dept."

The compensation in addition to the regular salary has, by subsequent amendment, been raised from $300 to $600.

On January 1, 1959, following the November 1958 municipal election in Garfield at which time a new political group was elected, a reorganization meeting was held by the city council. A resolution was adopted designating the defendant, Patrolman Nunno, as municipal court clerk and terminating the services of plaintiff in that capacity.

The question at issue is whether the Veterans' Tenure Act, R.S. 38:16-1, prevents the municipality from summarily terminating plaintiff's services as municipal court clerk. We are of the view that it does not and that the municipality may remove plaintiff from the position of municipal court clerk without good cause and a hearing.

R.S. 38:16-1 provides:

"No person now holding any employment, position or office under the government of this State, or the government of any county or municipality * * * who may hereafter be appointed to any such employment, office or position, whose term of employment, office or position is not now fixed by law, * * * shall hold his employment, position ...


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