On July 30, 2019, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued a formal opinion in Docket No.: A-3194-17T1 reversing an earlier decision by the the Civil Service Commission (CSC) refusing to reopen the appeal of a Corrections Sergeant (Appellant) of his removal from employment with the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC). The Appellant was previously removed from his position at New Jersey State Prison after charges alleging that he employed excessive force upon an inmate were sustained. The matter was first tried in the Office of Administrative Law, where the Administrative Law Judge recommended the Appellant’s removal from employment. That recommendation was subsequently converted to a Final Administrative Decision by the CSC.

The Appellant later petitioned the CSC to reopen his removal appeal after evidence surfaced that was previously withheld by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office. The evidence was produced in connection with a separate civil lawsuit against the Appellant, among other defendants, in United State District Court (NJ), that ended with a jury rendering a “no cause of action” verdict in Appellant’s favor on various Civil Rights and 1983 claims. The basis for the later petition to the CSC concerned the exculpatory nature of the withheld evidence and the impact it may have had on the Administrative Law Judge’s decision had it been produced in accordance with the Rules of Administrative Procedure. The CSC, however, was not moved and simply refused to consider Appellant’s petition, deeming it untimely.

A formal appeal was subsequently lodged with the Appellate Division, leading to the July 30th decision referenced above. The Appellate Division ultimately reversed the CSC, reasoning that the CSC’s decision to reject, on procedural grounds, Appellant’s application to reopen the case to consider evidence previously not available to him was “clearly a mistaken one and so plainly unwarranted that the interests of justice demand intervention and correction.” The appellate court then ordered the CSC to consider the Appellant’s application to reopen the hearing on his removal in light of the new evidence.

Donald C. Barbati, Esq., of Crivelli & Barbati, L.L.C., argued the matter in the Appellate Division on behalf of the Appellant. Frank M. Crivelli, Esq., also of Crivelli & Barbati, L.L.C., tried and defended the earlier civil lawsuit for the Appellant in the United States District Court of New Jersey that ended in a “no cause” jury verdict. The Appellant has maintained his innocence throughout the entirety of this process.

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Photo of Michael DeRose Michael DeRose

Michael P. DeRose is a shareholder at the firm and primarily focuses his practice in labor/ employment law and other aspects of civil litigation, such as contract disputes. He has litigated and tried hundreds of matters before the Superior Court of New Jersey…

Michael P. DeRose is a shareholder at the firm and primarily focuses his practice in labor/ employment law and other aspects of civil litigation, such as contract disputes. He has litigated and tried hundreds of matters before the Superior Court of New Jersey, the Office of Administrative Law and the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission on behalf of various labor unions and their members. Michael has extensive experience defending and fighting for members of law enforcement and other public employees facing adverse disciplinary action, such as termination or suspension from employment. He also frequently argues before New Jersey’s Appellate Division on behalf of his clients.

A large portion of his practice is also devoted to contract negotiations on behalf of union clients, representing such clients in grievance arbitration/ contract disputes, and otherwise advising union leaders on labor and employment matters.  Michael also has significant experience in the realm of interest arbitration on behalf of the firm’s law enforcement and firefighter unions. As a result of the firm’s robust labor and employment practice, Michael regularly appears before various state agencies, such as the New Jersey Civil Service Commission, the New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits, the State Health Benefits Commission, and NJ PERC. In addition to representing labor unions and active employees, Michael also represents retirees before the Division of Pensions in disability retirement applications, both ordinary and accidental disability retirement, in pension forfeiture actions, and in other miscellaneous pension disputes. He also counsels private business and their principals in contract and employment law, in addition to representing their interests in civil litigation. Michael has a track record of obtaining favorable outcomes for his clients and treats each everyone of them on an individual and particularized basis in accordance with their needs.

Before joining the firm in August of 2015, Michael was an associate counsel at a civil litigation firm out in Trenton, New Jersey, where he principally focused his practice around employment law and tort claims litigation. Prior to that, he served as a law clerk in the Superior Court of New Jersey for the Honorable F. Patrick McManimon, Mercer County Vicinage, from September of 2012 to August of 2013, where he attained significant experience in the realm of alternative dispute resolution having mediated well-over one-hundred cases, primarily related to commercial and residential landlord/ tenant disputes and contract/ business litigation. He earned his Juris Doctorate in 2012 after graduating from the Western Michigan University-Thomas M. Cooley School of Law. In 2007, he earned his Bachelor of the Arts in Criminal Justice and Public Administration from Kean University where he was a member of the Kean University baseball team and vice president of the Alpha Phi Sigma chapter of the National Criminal Justice Honor Society.

Michael is admitted to the New Jersey State Bar, the United States Federal Court for the District of New Jersey, and is a member of the Mercer County Bar Association.