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Civil Service Disciplinary Case Results

New York City Civil Service Job Defense Attorney: Successful Case Outcomes

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. At trial, Mr. Watford was able to demonstrate that the officer 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. The trial judge 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 the use of force directive. and ALJ 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. At trial, Mr. Watford was able to prove that the Captain from the Absence Control Unit (ACU) never entered the building beyond the lobby to access the Officer’s apartment. The Captain testified that he knocked on the Officer’s apartment door and after receiving no answer left the ACU notice of violation. Mr. Watford demonstrated at trial that the apartment referenced in the Captain’s testimony did not exist. The Employer, NYC DOC, failed to prove that the Officer committed misconduct. Dismissal of the charges recommended.

DOC. v. 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. At trial, Mr. Watford was able to show that the supervisor's testimony contained numerous inconsistencies and was not worthy of belief. The trial judge ruled that the employer, NYC DOC, failed to prove that the Officer committed misconduct. Dismissal of the charges recommended.

DOC v. H.B.

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

DOC v. P.G.

Correction Officer and Correction Captain were charged with failing to perform their duties properly, thereby allegedly 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 while going through the magnetometer, the restraint status inmate bolted toward the gym. At trial, Mr. Watford was able to prove that the inmate pushed passed the Correction Officer, 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 whereby he was sentenced to three life terms. The trial judge credited officer’s testimony that he opened the gym door to release two inmates who were leaving the area, that he did not have the door open for a long period of time nor did he leave it unattended, and that the inmate physically pushed past him before he could react. The trial judge recommended dismissal of all charges.

DOC v. W.H.

Mr. Watford represented the first correction officer who was not terminated for claiming “99 Exemptions” on his Federal and NY State tax forms in order to receive extra take-home pay in anticipation of receiving a large retroactive salary check. Mr. Watford was able to prove that the officer filed amended tax forms after receipt of the check and began repaying tax installments prior to his arrest. Additionally, Mr. Watford presented evidence that the Grand Jury failed to indict the officer and the criminal charges were dismissed. The trial judge found these corrective actions by the officer sufficiently mitigated the penalty so that termination was not warranted. The judge recommended a sixty (60) day suspension without pay as the most appropriate penalty.

DOC v. E.H.

Two Correction Officers were each charged with submitting false and/or misleading reports with respect to a use of force incident which occurred in their facility’s punitive segregation unit. All staff charged reported that the inmate sucker punched one officer which precipitated the incident. The trial judge credited the testimony of the officers after Mr. Watford 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 and that the use of force was reasonable and justified. 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. The officer testified that he attempted to pull the cart out of the elevator when the elevator doors opened. At trial, the judge found the officer’s testimony credible and Mr. Watford demonstrated that the DOC Investigator’s conclusion that the officer deliberately lifted the cart with the intent to dump the inmate was unsupported by the investigative report and viewing of videotape of the incident. All charges dismissed.

Civil Service Commission Appeals

DOC v. P. C

NYC DOC sought termination of Correction Officer at OATH trial in double inmate slashing case. At trial, Mr. Watford prevented the termination of the officer and convinced the Civil Service Commission to reduce the Commissioner’s penalty of 60 days suspension to 30 days. Client received 30 days back pay.

DOC v. H. L.

At the underlying OATH trial, the ALJ concluded that a Correction Officer sold drugs to an undercover police officer. The Correction Officer was subsequently terminated. On appeal, Mr. Watford convinced the Civil Service Commission to reverse 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. During oral argument, Mr. Watford demonstrated that the trial judge erroneously relied upon facts that were not in the trial transcript.

Administratively Dismissed Cases at OATH

Medical Incompetence (53 days)

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)

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 to 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

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 that five (5) correction officers, in separate cases, responded to assist in the incident and entered the pen after the use of force began. Mr. Watford was able to persuade DOC that it could not prove that there was any failure to anticipate a use of force by the officers.

Use of Force

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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