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November 20, 2014


Submitted November 6, 2014 Decided

Before Judges Fuentes and O'Connor.

On appeal from the Civil Service Commission, Docket No. 2014-9.

Eric Garbrah, appellant pro se.

John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent Juvenile Justice Commission (Lisa A. Puglisi, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Erin M. Greene, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent Civil Service Commission (Todd A. Wigder, Deputy Attorney General, on the statement in lieu of brief).


Eric Garbrah appeals from the September 5, 2013 final decision of the Civil Service Commission (Commission) denying his application for reconsideration of the Commission's October 24, 2007 decision denying his request for a hearing with respect to the termination of his employment with the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC). The Commission found appellant's application for reconsideration was grossly untimely and failed to offer any plausible explanation for delaying nearly six years before seeking any form of relief. We affirm.

The following facts are not disputed. Commencing in July 2004, appellant was hired by the JJC to serve as a Senior Youth Worker assigned to the Voorhees Residential Community Home located in the Borough of Glen Gardner. On or about July 1, 2006, appellant was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a knife, possession of marijuana, and resisting arrest. Following his arrest, the JJC charged appellant with conduct unbecoming a public employee and violating the drug-free workplace policy. The record shows that appellant became unruly at a pre-determination hearing held by the JJC on July 5, 2006, and was ultimately asked to leave. The hearing officer determined that appellant be suspended without pay effective July 6, 2006, pending disposition of the criminal charges.

Appellant was personally served with the Preliminary Notice of Disciplinary Action (PNDA) issued by the New Jersey Department of Personnel, suspending him without pay effective July 6, 2006, until a final determination was made regarding the criminal charges against him. The PNDA apprised appellant that an appeal must be filed by July 22, 2006, and sent "directly to Lisa F. Bell at the above address." Neither appellant nor the collective bargaining agent representing public employees filed a notice of appeal within the timeframe indicated on the PNDA.

On July 31, 2006, the JJC sent appellant a Final Notice of Disciplinary Action (FNDA) via certified and regular mail, apprising him of the permanent termination of his employment retroactive to July 6, 2006, the initial suspension date. The certified mail was returned by the postal service on August 27, 2006, marked "unclaimed"; the notice sent by regular mail was not returned.1

On July 13, 2007, approximately one year after the FNDA was issued, appellant sent a letter to the Commission, seeking to appeal his termination from the JJC. On October 24, 2007, the Commission denied appellant's application because it was filed well outside the twenty-day time period during which all appeals must be filed. It is undisputed that the State dismissed the criminal charges against appellant on October 16, 2007.

Appellant took no further action to challenge his termination from the JJC until his request for reconsideration dated June 28, 2013, nearly six years after the final notice of termination. On September 5, 2013, the Commission denied appellant's request, noting that appellant

does not present any evidence or arguments as to when he became aware of his termination[,] . . . [and] did not provide any evidence that he attempted to request information from the appointing authority regarding the status of his employment between July 31, 2006 and July 13, 2007 or that the appointing authority did not respond to such requests.

Appellant's presentation to this court is equally devoid of substantive clarity. Our standard of review of final decisions made by State administrative agencies is well-settled. We look to the following four factors

(1) whether the agency's decision offends the State or Federal Constitution;

(2) whether the agency's action violates express or implied legislative policies;

(3) whether the record contains substantial evidence to support the findings on which the agency based its action; and

(4) whether in applying the legislative policies to the facts, the agency clearly erred in reaching a conclusion that could not reasonably have been made on a showing of the relevant factors.

[Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 211 (1997) (quoting George Harms Constr. Co. v. N.J. Tpk. Auth., 137 N.J. 8, 27 (1994)).]

Here, appellant has failed to show any legal basis to interfere with or disturb the decision of the Commission. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(D).


1 Appellant claims in his pro se brief before this court that he did not receive the FNDA because it was mailed to the wrong address. The record does not show that appellant presented the Commission with competent evidence supporting this allegation.