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New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division Affirms Waterfront Commission’s Revocation of Warehouseman’s Registration

May 8, 2012

            On May 8, 2012, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, affirmed the decision of the Waterfront Commission to revoke the registration of Warehouseman William H. Donoughe, Jr. Donoughe was charged with operating a large-scale marijuana grow operation, thereby rendering his presence at the piers or other waterfront terminals in the Port of New York district a danger to the public peace or safety within the meaning of the Waterfront Commission Act. After an administrative hearing, the Administrative Law Judge found that the Commission established the charges against Donoughe by a fair preponderance of the credible evidence, and recommended that Donoughe’s registration be suspended for six (6) months. Having duly considered the record of the proceedings and the Administrative Law Judge’s Report and Recommendations, the Commission instead revoked Donoughe’s registration.

            On appeal, Donoughe alleged various due process violations, including the amendment of the Commission’s notice of hearing in the middle of the administrative hearing, and the admission of certain hearsay testimony during the hearing. He also argued that the revocation, rather than a suspension, of his registration was an abuse of discretion.

            The appellate panel rejected Donoughe’s allegations, finding that there was no due process violation or other fundamental unfairness at the hearing. The Court found that amendments to charges during a hearing are permitted and, likewise, that it is “firmly established that hearsay is admissible in administrative hearings, so long as the agency’s factual findings are supported by a residuum of legally competent evidence.” Moreover, the Court held that the Commission's decision to revoke Donoughe’s registration was not disproportionate to the offense charged. The Court found that Donoughe’s willingness to participate in a large-scale marijuana grow operation, “suggests that he would not be a trustworthy person to have working on the waterfront, an area where corruption has historically been a matter of serious concern.”

           Accordingly, the Court affirmed the Commission’s revocation of Donoughe’s registration.

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A copy of the Court's Opinion is attached. PDF

 

 

 

 

Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor