Tuesday, November 6, 2012

State's highest court upholds Commission decision, reversing Superior Court decision that overturned Commission

The Supreme Judicial Court issued its highly-anticipated decision in Police Department of Boston v. Kaveleski today concerning the controversial issue of psychological bypasses, ruling that the Commission had acted within its discretion in finding that Boston failed to justify its psychological bypass of a candidate for police officer despite not having a psychological evaluation to counter the City's evaluation. The Commission overturned the bypass in 2009 by a 3-2 decision, finding that the opinions of the City's psychiatrists were subjective and based primarily on their impressions of the candidate's appearance and performance during the interviews rather than a finding of psychological unfitness. The decisions prompted a strong dissent from Chairman Christopher Bowman who argued that the Commission improperly substituted its opinion in place of the City's opinion.

The Superior Court overturned the Commission's decision, agreeing with Bowman that the Commission had exceeded its discretion in second-guessing the City's opinion regarding the candidate's fitness.

The SJC reversed the Superior Court decision, ruling that the Commission had acted within its discretion in rejecting the opinions offered by the City's psychiatrists despite not having any alternative expert opinion. The SJC agreed with the City that the Commission had improperly considered the testimony offered by experts in another bypass appeal, but ruled that the Commission's decision could be upheld even without considering this testimony.

I will provide more detailed analysis about the decision soon.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Commissions orders investigation into make-up examination

On November 2, 2012, the Commission issued a decision in which it opened an investigation into a make-up examination given by the state's Human Resources Division for two vacant lieutenant positions in the Brockton Police Department.  HRD administered the make-up examination to two candidates who the Commission had earlier ruled had been mistakenly not allowed to take the original examination. These candidates scored higher on the make-up test than all the candidates who took the original examination. Subsequently, separate appeals were filed alleging that these two candidates had an unfair advantage because many of the same questions were used on the make-up test as on the original and these candidates had learned about the questions through various websites. The Commission scheduled a pre-hearing conference for the investigation for early December.