Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Friday, December 9, 2011

Former police chief Santiago loses appeal over demotion to captain

Capt. Edward Santiago prepares to speak at police memorial dedication, September 2010.

In a decision rendered November 29, former Plainfield police chief Edward Santiago's appeal of his effective demotion to the rank of Captain after the position of police chief was eliminated was denied by Administrative Law Judge Caridad F. Rigo. The decision has been published on the Rutgers Law Library's website (see here).

Santiago claimed that his demotion in 2008, when the Council voted to eliminate the position at the request of the Robinson-Briggs administration, was 'in retaliation for his refusal to support and/or endorse a particular mayoral candidate'.

Santiago's case was presented by his attorney, Stephen Klausner, at eight hearings between April 2009 and May 2011.

City Solicitor David Minchello advised Rigo at the conclusion of Santiago's presentation that the City intended to file a written motion to dismiss, saying Santiago had failed to carry the burden of proof.

A written motion to dismiss was submitted by the City on July 12, 2011, claiming that Santiago had failed to prove the change in position was due to 'bad faith' on the part of the City or a result of political retaliation.

After a review of the reasons an appeal of a demotion may be made, and an outline of the heavy burdens of proof required of the appellant, Rigo concludes that the specific contentions of 'bad faith' and 'political retaliation' did not meet the test of sufficiency.

The decision is preliminary only, and is forwarded to the Civil Service Commission, which may accept, reject or amend it. If no formal action is taken by the Civil Service Commission within forty-five days of the opinion, it becomes final as written.

One last step available to Captain Santiago would be to file a written 'exception' to the ruling with the Civil Service Commission within thirteen days of the mailing of the preliminary decision to the parties (which date must be fast approaching). Such 'exceptions' would be taken into consideration by the Civil Service Commission in acting on the matter, if it chooses to do so at all.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Michael Townley said...

Unless I am mistaken, he also has the right of appeal from the decision of Civil Service, should they uphold the administrative law judge's decision. His appeal would be filed with the Appellate Division.

Anonymous said...

What the City has done to the Chief, the two Captains they forced to retire, and the officers that reported the Director's crime are absolutely ridiculous! But this is what happens when you allow politicians to run the police dept. The Chief needs to be put back in charge and the politician director just needs to go...