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13 N.J.A.R. 270

Warren, John E. and Sowa, Gerald F. v. Dept. of Corrections
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Citation: 13 N.J.A.R. 270
Decision Date: 1987
Agency: MERIT SYSTEM PROTECTION BOARD
Synopsis: Senior correction officers Warren and Sowa appealed their re- moval on charges from their positions as guards in Trenton State Prison. The matters were transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law and consolidated for hearing. Appellants were charged with neglect of duty after four inmates escaped from the prison's special unit for inmates with AIDS. Respon- dent claimed proper prison security procedures were not followed on the evening of the escape. The administrative law judge assigned to the case found that the AIDS unit ordinarily functioned in the more relaxed manner of a hospital unit, rather than a maximum security wing. Appellants' supervisors were aware of the relaxed procedures. Although appellant Warren acknowledged that he did not take an inmate count as required shortly after the escape occurred, the judge concluded that appellants' actions did not contribute to the escape or delay the recapture of the inmates. Regarding penalty, the judge said removal was not justified. A 30-day suspension was ordered for Warren because he failed to take the required inmate count. Appellant Sowa was found not guilty of neglect of duty. The judge ordered both appellants reinstated. State of New Jersey 271 Upon review, this initial decision was adopted by the Merit System Board. On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed the penalty of suspension rather than removal. The Supreme Court affirmed. Robert A. Fagella, Esq., for appellants (Zazzali, Zazzali & Kroll, attorneys) Eliaser Chaimrro, Deputy Attorney General, for respondent (W. Cary Edwards, Attorney General of New Jersey, attorney)
Rule(s) Cited: 4:1-5.10(a) 4:1-16.9(a)1