Many times, individuals apply for positions in law enforcement and are fortunate enough to be certified to the eligible list for the position. In simple terms, this means they have “made the list” in order to be considered for the position. After being certified, those persons are required to undergo a psychological evaluation to determine whether they are suitable for the position they are seeking, whether it be Police Officer, Correctional Police Officer, etc., as part and parcel of the hiring process. Unfortunately, however, certain applicants are deemed “not psychologically suitable” for employment as a law enforcement officer. In turn, they are removed from the eligible list.

At that point, the individual can file an appeal with the New Jersey Civil Service Commission challenging their removal from the eligible list. The appeal usually consists of the individual submitting written arguments and a rebuttal psychological report refuting the finding that they are “not psychologically suitable” for employment. Thereafter, the individual is personally evaluated by the Medical Review Panel, which consists of certain psychologists, physicians, etc. The Panel reviews the competing psychological reports, questions the individual, considers the arguments, and ultimately makes a recommendation as to whether the individual is “psychologically suitable” for employment. This recommendation is transmitted to the Civil Service Commission wherein it is, typically, adopted in totality.

While the appeal process is relatively simple and straightforward, the deadlines associated with the same are very stringent. To this end, the individual has only 90 days from the filing of the appeal to submit a rebuttal report from a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist in accordance with N.J.A.C. 4A:4-6.5(e). When considering: (1) the underlying records need to be provided to your psychological expert; (2) an appointment with the expert needs to be made; (3) the evaluation must take place; and (4) the rebuttal report ultimately written, much must be completed within this 90 day time frame.

Even more concerning, the Civil Service Commission is somewhat reluctant to grant any extensions, irrespective if the psychologist’s schedule is not accommodating or when the records used in removing the individual’s name are provided from the prospective employer. While the Commission may grant an extension for “good cause,” it is unclear what constitutes such “good cause” as many requests for extensions are denied. In accordance therewith, Courts have routinely held that the Commission’s denial of extension requests are proper. As a result, if an individual attempts to submit a psychological report after the requisite deadline, the Commission will not consider the same. For all intents and purposes, this eviscerates any likelihood of success of the appeal and reinstatement to the eligible list.

Therefore, when filing a psychological appeal challenging your removal from an eligible list, deadlines matter. The failure to adhere to the requisite deadlines can be fatal to your appeal and, as demonstrated above, much must be accomplished within a short period of time. This is further compounded by the fact that any extension requests will likely be denied. As such, if you are considering filing such an appeal, you should contact an attorney experienced in such appeals to properly counsel you throughout the process.

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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.