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Civil Service Disciplinary Victories


DOC v. F.E.

Correction Officer was charged with abandoning control room post to confront an inmate who had refused to provide pedigree information, failing to anticipate a use of force, using excessive force, and filing a false report. The officer testified that he left the control room because he was unable to communicate with the inmate through the window slot. He did not contact a supervisor because believed he could use interpersonal skills to obtain the information. It was not until the inmate struck the officer did the situation quickly escalate. ALJ Alessandra F. Zorgniotti found the officer’s testimony, which was corroborated by the video, to be credible. She found that the officer exercised reasonable and prudent judgment under the circumstances and she recommended dismissal of the charges.

DOC v. E.L.

Correction officer charged with leaving her residence while on sick leave without permission and without having logged out with Health Management Division. Petitioner failed to prove that respondent committed misconduct.Dismissal of the charges recommended.

DOC. Q.O.

Correction officer charged with being disrespectful to a supervisor, failing to submit a complete and accurate report, failing to wear a tie with his uniform, and failing to secure the “A” station door. Petitioner failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that respondent committed misconduct. Dismissal of the charges recommended.

DOC v. H.B.

Correction officer was charged with assaulting her niece during an off-duty incident which allegedly occurred when the niece was living with Officer’s mother. The judge found the complainant to be impertinent, impudent, defiant and defensive at trial, all of which detracted from her credibility. The complainant lied about how she received her injuries which were old and which she claimed a couple of days earlier were a result of her biting her lip and getting hit in the face with a volley ball. The ALJ recommended dismissal of the charges against the officer.

DOC v. P.G.

Correction officer and retired correction captain were charged with failing to perform their duties properly, thereby allowing an inmate to slash a civilian employee. The captain escorted a restraint status inmate with three non-restraint status inmates to the commissary, and on the way out, while going through the magnetometer, the restraint status inmate bolted toward the gym, pushed passed the correction officer and entered the open gym door, and slashed a civilian maintenance worker who had previously sat on the jury that convicted the inmate of a triple homicide and for which he was sentenced to three life terms. The ALJ credited officer’s claim that he opened the gym door to release two inmates who were leaving the area, that he did not have the door open for long nor did he leave it unattended, and that the inmate physically pushed past him before he could react. The ALJ recommended dismissal of all charges.

DOC v.W.H.

First of the 99 exemption tax cases where Correction Officer not terminated where he was found to have knowingly falsified Federal and State withholding statements in order to receive extra take home pay. The ALJ ruled that the officer filed the correct tax forms and began paying installments prior to arrest, sufficiently mitigated penalty so that terminations was not warranted and recommended a sixty day suspension without pay is most appropriate penalty.

DOC v. E.H.

Two correction captains and two correction officers were each charged with submitting a false and/or misleading report with respect to a minor use of force incident which occurred in their facility’s punitive segregation unit. Staff all reported that the inmate sucker punched one of them which precipitated the incident which was deemed a good use of force. The ALJ credited the testimony of the officers after it was demonstrated that although the time lapse cameras did not record the punch, the reactions of the staff clearly proved that the inmate initiated the incident. All charges dismissed.

DOC v. E.V.

Correction Officer was charged with using impermissible force on an inmate where it was alleged that he dumped the inmate out of a laundry cart while in an elevator. Respondent, admittedly, attempted to pull the cart out of the elevator when their destination was reached and the elevator doors opened. ALJ found the officer’s explanation credible and Department Investigator’s conclusion that respondent deliberately lifted the cart with the intent to dump the inmate, unsupported by available investigatory material and viewing of videotape of incident. All charges dismissed.


Civil Service Commission

DOC v. P. C

OATH Index No. 2083/14 (May 14, 2015), modified, NYC Civ. Serv. Comm’n Case No. 2017-0442 (Dec. 14, 2017)

Prevented Correction Officer’s termination at OATH in inmate slashing case and thereafter convinced the Civil Service Commission to reduce the 60 day penalty to 30 days.

DOC v. H. L.

At the underlying OATH trial the ALJ concluded that Correction Officer sold drugs to an undercover police officer. The Correction Officer was subsequently terminated. On appeal, the Civil Service Commission reversed the termination and reinstated the officer on the grounds that the evidence at trial was insufficient to identify the officer as the seller of the drugs and that the ALJ erroneously relied upon facts that were not in the trial transcript.


Administratively Dismissed Cases at OATH

Medical Incompetence (53 days) 2016

Mr. Watford convinced the DOC to dismiss disciplinary charges against an officer based upon the fact that a significant portion of her sick leave usage was due to the sudden death of her husband. The officer had no prior extensive sick leave history, had returned to work full duty and no significant subsequent sick leave usage.

Medical Incompetence (170 days) 2016

Mr. Watford convinced the DOC that the officer’s 10 month usage of sick leave was not her fault and did not warrant discipline. The officer fell on the job and injured her knees on separate incidents. After the second fall she tore her meniscus which required surgery. Medical records proved that her injury was confirmed in November 2015, that she had the surgery in May 2016 and that she fully recovered when she returned to full duty in December 2016. Mr. Watford argued that HMD put her out sick 3 months in February 2016, 3 months prior her surgery in May 2016 and that her recovery time for this type of surgery was not excessive when she was cleared to return in December 2016.

Use of Force (2016)

DOC’s theory was that any officer who entered the intake holding pen during the incident should be charged with failure to anticipate a use of force. Mr. Watford was able to demonstrate via videotape five (5) correction officers, in separate cases, responded to assist in the incident and entered the pen after the use of force began. Therefore, DOC could not prove that there was any failure to anticipate a use of force by the officers.

Use of Force (2016)

A disruptive inmate made threats to a correction officer and proceeded to lock himself in the day room along with another inmate. The officer was splashed by the inmate when he tried to unlock the dayroom door. The officer then sprayed through the dayroom door which led DOC to charge the officer with failing to anticipate a use of force, failing to notify a supervisor and unnecessary force by spraying the inmate who allegedly posed no immediate threat. Mr. Watford pointed out to DOC attorneys that the Assistant Deputy Warden, Deputy Warden and Warden who reviewed the Use of Force Investigative Package concluded that the “use of force was necessary, appropriate and within the departmental guidelines. DOC agreed to withdraw the charges.

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