May judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding be conducted on a Sunday?
This was one of the issues raised by the petitioner in her CPLR Article 78 petition seeking to vacate the appointing authority’s disciplinary determination that resulted in her being dismissed from her position. The petitioner contended that she was impermissibly discharged from her position because one of the dates on which her disciplinary hearing was conducted was a Sunday, citing Judiciary Law §5.
Judiciary Law §5, in pertinent part, provides that: “A court shall not be opened, or transact any business on Sunday, nor shall a court transact any business on a Saturday in any case where such day is kept as a holy day by any party to the case, except to receive a verdict or discharge a jury and for the receipt by the criminal court of the city of New York or a court of special sessions of a plea of guilty and the pronouncement of sentence thereon in any case in which such court has jurisdiction.”
In rebuttal, the appointing authority argued that out of “a multiple day hearing, only one of the days was a Sunday, and therefore the proceedings cannot be held invalid.”
Supreme Court Justice Catherine M. Bartlett disagreed with the argument advanced by the appointing authority, annulling the appointing authority’s' decision and remanding the matter for “a new hearing and determination de novo in compliance with New York law Judiciary Law §5.
The court, citing Jones v E. Meadow Fire Dist., 21 AD2d 129, explained at common law no judicial act could be done on Sunday; and, in the absence of a permissive statute, a judge had no authority to hold court or to conduct a trial on Sunday. Judiciary Law §5, said the court, was enacted as a substitute for the common-law rule. The Jones court held that “quasi-judicial proceedings such as disciplinary proceedings before a review board fall under Judiciary Law §5's auspices.”*
On a related point, Justice Bartlett also noted that the mandates of Judiciary Law §5 may not be waived by a party as §5 expresses the public policy of the State.
* In Matter of Brody [Owen], 259 App.Div. 720, the Appellate Division held that an arbitration hearing and award were both “illegal and void,” because both occurred on a Sunday and “An arbitration is a judicial proceeding and arbitrators perform a judicial function.”
The decision is posted on the Internet at:
Mitchell H. Rubinstein