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Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The administrative tribunal, not the court, weighs the evidence and determines the credibility of witnesses in an administrative hearing

 

The administrative tribunal, not the court, weighs the evidence and determines the credibility of witnesses in an administrative hearing
Matter of Martin v Board of Trustees of the Vil. of Pelham Manor, 2011 NY Slip Op 06106, Appellate Division, Second Department
The Village of Pelham Manor found Robert Manor, a Village police officer guilty of a number disciplinary charges filed against him including excessive use of paid sick leave and insubordination. The penalty imposed, termination.
Manor appealed, contending that the Village’s determination was not supported by substantial evidence in the record. The Appellate Division disagreed, sustaining the Village’s findings and the penalty it imposed.
The court explained that the standard of review in an administrative determination made after a hearing is limited to considering whether the determination was supported by substantial evidence. In contrast, the Appellate Division said that “it is the function of the administrative agency, not the reviewing court, to weigh the evidence, assess the credibility of witnesses, and determine which evidence to accept or reject.”
Accordingly, where there is conflicting evidence and, or, testimony, it is the administrative tribunal, not the court, that weights the evidence and the determines credibility of the witnesses testifying at the hearing.
As to the penalty imposed, dismissal from his position, the Appellate Division, applying the so-called Pell test {[Pell v Board of Education, 34 NY2d 222], held that “the penalty of termination of employment was not so disproportionate to the offenses as to be shocking to one's sense of fairness, thus constituting an abuse of discretion as a matter of law” 

 

Reprinted by permission New York Public Personnel Law

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/adjunctprofs/2011/09/the-administrative-tribunal-not-the-court-weighs-the-evidence-and-determines-the-credibility-of-witnesses-in-an-administrat.html

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