On June 3, 2010, the Appellate Division decided In the Matter of Torres Mayfield, Docket No.: A-2969-08T1. In the case, Torres Mayfield appealed from the final decision of the Civil Service Commission (“Commission”) terminating him as an Atlantic City police officer for misconduct.

Mayfield was charged with violations of Atlantic City Police Department Rules and Regulations relating to a domestic dispute involving J.M., who is deaf. In the early morning hours on April 1, 2006, J.M. sought help from police complaining that she was assaulted by her boyfriend, Mayfield. She was bruised and beaten by Mayfield because he thought she was communicating on the computer with an old boyfriend. Mayfield punched her in the face and threatened to hang himself if she left him. That night J.M. was distraught, upset and scared. She was treated in the hospital and photographed.

J.M. eventually dismissed her municipal court charges against Mayfield. She refused to testify at the administrative hearing because Mayfield is the father of her child and they resided together. She was arrested and forced to appear at the administrative hearing. At the hearing, she was defiant and appeared distraught, upset and scared.

During the investigation, Mayfield said that on the night in question he was with Rodney Jamal Armstrong and Ali Cottrell. Mayfield told the investigating detective that when they arrived at his house, J.M. said she was hit by a boot thrown by Mayfield’s son. Armstrong testified he was at a club with Cottrell, but not Mayfield. Armstrong said Mayfield called him telling him and Cottrell about the boot.

The Administrative Law Judge disbelieved the testimony from J.M. that she was struck by a boot. The injuries were not consistent with being struck by a boot, and it was clear to the ALJ that J.M. did not want to contribute to the case against Mayfield. The ALJ found that Mayfield was untruthful by attempting to create an alibi and blame his son. As such, the ALJ found Mayfield assaulted J.M. and was untruthful in his response to the investigation. The Commission adopted the findings of fact made by the ALJ and found the termination of Mayfield as a police officer was justified. This appeal ensued.

On appeal, Mayfield contended the administrative decision was not based on legally competent evidence and that, even if the record supports a finding of guilt, his termination was not in accordance with the principles of progressive discipline.  The Appellate Division rejected his arguments and affirmed his termination. Specifically, the Court found that Mayfield failed to demonstrate that the ALJ’s decision was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable. Moreover, the Court agreed with the ALJ that Mayfield’s offenses in this case were severe enough to warrant his removal despite lack of a substantial prior disciplinary history.

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Photo of Donald C. Barbati Donald C. Barbati

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues…

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues litigated before the courts and administrative tribunals throughout the State of New Jersey. In addition, Mr. Barbati also routinely represents individuals in various types of public pension appeals, real estate transactions, and general litigation matters. He is a frequent contributor to the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog, a free legal publication designed to keep New Jersey public safety officers up-to-date and informed about legal issues pertinent to their profession. During his years of practice, Mr. Barbati has established a reputation for achieving favorable results for his clients in a cost-efficient manner.

Mr. Barbati has also handled numerous novel legal issues while representing New Jersey Public Safety Officers. Most notably, he served as lead counsel for the Appellants in the published case In re Rodriguez, 423 N.J. Super. 440 (App. Div. 2011). In that case, Mr. Barbati successfully argued on behalf of the Appellants, thereby overturning the Attorney General’s denial of counsel to two prison guards in a civil rights suit arising from an inmate assault. In the process, the Court clarified the standard to be utilized by the Attorney General in assessing whether a public employee is entitled to legal representation and mandated that reliance must be placed on up-to-date information.

Prior to becoming a practicing attorney, Mr. Barbati served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Linda R. Feinberg, Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer Vicinage. During his clerkship Mr. Barbati handled numerous complex and novel substantive and procedural issues arising from complaints in lieu of prerogative writs, orders to show cause, and motion practice. These include appeals from decisions by planning and zoning boards and local government bodies, bidding challenges under the Local Public Contract Law, Open Public Records Act requests, the taking of private property under the eminent domain statute, and election law disputes. In addition, Mr. Barbati, as a certified mediator, mediated many small claims disputes in the Special Civil Part.

Mr. Barbati received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, magna cum laude, from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Upon graduating, Mr. Barbati attended Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware. In 2007, he received his juris doctorate, magna cum laude, graduating in the top five percent of his class. During law school, Mr. Barbati interned for the Honorable Joseph E. Irenas, Senior United States District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey in Camden, New Jersey, assisting on various constitutional, employment, and Third Circuit Court of Appeals litigation, including numerous civil rights, social security, and immigration cases.