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Civil Service Commission v. Senate

Decided: January 5, 1979.

CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY; POLICE TRAINING COMMISSION, DEPARTMENT OF LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT, AND GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from Superior Court, Law Division, Mercer County.

Lynch, Crane and Horn.

Per Curiam

[165 NJSuper Page 145] By this appeal defendant General Assembly of the State of New Jersey*fn1 seeks to overturn and render nugatory a judgment entered in the Superior Court, Law Division, declaring "that in accordance with an oral opinion

issued in this matter on March 31, 1977, such special legislation violates N.J. Const. , Art. IV, § 7, para. 9(5) and is, therefore, unconstitutional."

Plaintiffs initiated this action for a declaratory judgment on the basis of their particular powers in regard to the Civil Service system in this State. Plaintiff Civil Service Commission alleged that it was empowered by law to administer and enforce the merit and fitness system embodied in N.J.S.A. 11:1-1 et seq. Plaintiff Police Training Commission of the Department of Law and Public Safety alleged that it was empowered "by law to establish the selection, approval, inspection, curriculum, minimum courses of study, standards of operation and minimal qualifications of instructors of educational and training facilities providing a police training course for new police officers and to certify police officers upon their satisfactory completion of the required training course. N.J.S.A. 52:17B-71."

The "special legislation" declared in the judgment to be unconstitutional were all legislative enactments "which permit municipalities to appoint certain individuals to permanent positions in the municipality's police force without that person [ sic ] meeting the requirements of the Civil Service Commission * * *" (oral opinion of the trial judge).

It appears without dispute that the issue was presented to the trial court on what was tantamount to an agreed factual presentation. The factual basis appears to be that since the 1930s the Legislature has enacted over 300 special laws which waive for particular individuals Civil Service and police training standards and qualifications for permanent appointment to various municipal police departments, notwithstanding constitutional and statutory Civil Service examination requirements and statutory police training requirements. During the legislative session of 1974-1975 there were 30 such laws enacted. E.g. , chapter 126 to chapter 136, and chapter 177 of the Laws of 1974; chapter 40, chapter 50 to chapter 65, chapter 368, chapter 374, chapter 384 and chapter 286 of the Laws of 1975. At the time of the filing

of the complaint in this matter there were pending in the Legislature 18 bills which, if enacted, would constitute similar special legislation.

Plaintiffs sought a judgment declaring unconstitutional all legislation hereafter enacted which waives for certain individuals Civil Service merit and fitness qualifications for appointments to Civil Service positions and authorizes the permanent appointment of such individuals, notwithstanding constitutional and statutory Civil Service merit and fitness requirements and statutory police training requirements.

Judgment was rendered on plaintiffs' motion for judgment on the pleadings.*fn2

In addition to arguing on this appeal that the trial court erred in finding that such special legislation violated N.J. Const. (1947), Art. IV, § VII, par. 9(5), defendant urges that the trial judge should not have attempted to declare the rights or the status of parties upon a statement of facts which is future, contingent and uncertain, amounting to an advisory opinion. Further, defendant asserts that the specific municipalities involved in such legislation should have been made party to this action seeking declaratory relief.

In disposing of defendants' contention that this action did not present a justiciable controversy, the trial judge observed ...


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