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In re Smith

October 30, 2009

IN THE MATTER OF CHRISTIAN SMITH


On appeal from the Final Determination of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, Case No. RL-5049.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued October 7, 2009

Before Judges Graves and Sabatino.

After a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"), the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor ("the Commission") revoked appellant Christian Smith's license to work as a longshoreman. This discipline was based upon three discrete grounds, one of which we conclude the Commission unduly relied upon in ordering revocation and in rejecting the ALJ's recommended lesser sanction of a six-month suspension.

Consequently, we vacate the order of revocation and remand this matter to the Commission for reconsideration.

Appellant obtained his registration as a longshoreman in July 2000, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 32:23-27, making him eligible for employment in the Port of New York. The Commission is a bistate agency "entrusted [with] the safeguarding of the public interest on the New York Harbor waterfront." In re Application of Kaiser, 94 N.J. Super. 95, 99 (App. Div. 1967); see also N.J.S.A. 32:23-5. The Commission's historical oversight of longshoremen, stevedores, and other workers in the harbor is designed to eradicate "an unwholesome concentration of criminals on the waterfront." Kaiser, supra, 94 N.J. Super. at 99; see also Knoble v. Waterfront Comm'n of New York Harbor, 67 N.J. 427, 430 (1975); N.J.S.A. 32:23-2.

Registration may be denied by the Commission, in its discretion, on various grounds, including a finding that the applicant's "presence at the piers or other waterfront terminals in the Port of New York... [would] constitute a danger to the public peace or safety." N.J.S.A. 32:23-29. As part of its regulatory powers, the Commission has the authority under Section 31 of the statute to:

[R]eprimand any longshoreman... or to remove him from the longshoremen's register for such period of time as it deems in the public interest, for any of the following [specified] offenses:

(a) Conviction of a crime or other cause which would permit disqualification of such person from inclusion in the longshoremen's register upon original application;

(b) Fraud, deceit or misrepresentation in securing inclusion in the longshoremen's register;

(c) Transfer or surrender of possession to any person either temporarily or permanently of any card or other means of identification issued by the commission as evidence of inclusion in the longshoremen's register, without satisfactory explanation;

(d) False impersonation of another longshoreman registered under this article or of another person licensed under this compact;

(e) Wilful commission of or wilful attempt to commit at or on a waterfront terminal or adjacent highway any act of physical injury to any other person or of wilful damage to or misappropriation of any other ...


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