This is an action in lieu of prerogative writ challenging the legality of certain appointments of police officers by Alfred R. Pierce, Director of the Department of Public Safety of the City of Camden.
The City of Camden is a municipal corporation operating under the Civil Service statutes (R.S. 11:19-1 et seq.) insofar as regulations for the promotion of police personnel are concerned. On February 9, 1957 an examination for the position of Lieutenant was held by the Civil Service Commission at the request of the then Director of Public Safety. Based upon the results of that test, a list of qualified applicants was compiled by the Commission. This list was originally to expire on May 9, 1959, but was extended to May 8, 1960. R.S. 11:9-10 requires that an employment list must be promulgated for a period of no less than six months nor greater than three years. The then Director of Public Safety, on July 1, 1957, appointed the first seven on the aforesaid list to the position of Lieutenant. These men, in order of the results of the test, were as follows: William Neale, William Yeager, Donald Watson, Stanley Zuchowicz, John Watkins, Edward Watson and George Weber.
On January 28, 1960 the Board of Commissioners of the
City of Camden adopted an ordinance which, in part, provided:
"Section 1. There is hereby established a Police Department which shall consist of the Chief of Police, 6 Inspectors of Police, Chief Clerk, 4 Captains of Police, 7 Lieutenants of Police, 38 Sergeants of Police, 30 Detectives, 258 Patrolmen, 4 Police Matrons, 2 Janitors, 4 Chaplains, and Police Surgeon, who shall be known as 'The Police Department of the City of Camden': provided that with the exception of Police Matron, Janitor, Chaplain and Police Surgeon, no person shall receive an appointment other than as Patrolman who has not been a member of the Police Force of the City of Camden for at least three years * * *."
This ordinance remained in effect until September 22, 1960 at which time an amendatory ordinance increasing the number of Inspectors of Police to eight was adopted.
On April 1, 1960 Donald Watson was appointed Inspector (temporary promotion). On April 21, 1960 the then Chief of Police, Gustave Koerner, retired and Donald Watson was immediately appointed Chief of Police. On that same day, Inspector Anthony Skolski (permanent) was suspended without pay pending the outcome of an indictment returned against him by the Camden County Grand Jury. Then William Yeager, Stanley Zuchowicz, George Weber, and Edward Watson were promoted from Lieutenant to Inspector of Police (temporary promotions). On May 3, 1960 William Neale and John Watkins were likewise promoted to Inspector (temporary promotions).
Also, on May 3, 1960 the following men were appointed Lieutenants of Police, replacing the Lieutenants who were appointed Inspectors: Howard Clayton, William E. Kelly, Roland E. Comerford, Vincent P. Conley, Joseph A. Hooven and Samuel J. Saunders. Thus, on May 4, 1960, there were one permanent Inspector (suspended), seven Inspectors (temporary promotions), one of whom had also been appointed Chief of Police, and six Lieutenants.
After making the above promotions, Mayor Pierce, Director of Public Safety, then requested the Civil Service Commission
to conduct examinations for the position of Inspector. The Civil Service Commission scheduled an examination with May 12, 1960 as the final day for filing applications. Only the seven Inspectors (temporary) filed such applications. Civil Service subsequently determined that there was no competitive situation since the number of vacancies equaled the number of applicants; and thus the President of the Commission announced on September 12, 1960 that these seven Temporary Inspectors were to become permanent without an examination under Civil Service Rule No. 24.
The plaintiffs, all of whom are citizens and taxpayers of the City of Camden as well as Sergeants in the Police Department of Camden, filed this action on May 27, 1960, naming Mayor Pierce as the sole defendant. An amended complaint was filed on December 27, 1960, adding the six Lieutenants who were appointed on May 3, 1960 as party defendants. At the second pretrial conference, the court suggested to plaintiffs' counsel that the seven Lieutenants, whose promotion to Inspector has herein been challenged, should also be joined as defendants. Thus a second amended complaint was filed on March 17, ...