Appeal from the Circuit Court of Fulton County; the Hon.
BURTON A. ROETH, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.
MR. JUSTICE MORAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.
This is a proceeding brought under the Administrative Review Act to challenge the validity of plaintiff's discharge from his employment with the Department of Financial Institutions of the State of Illinois. The appeal was originally filed in the Appellate Court for the Third District, but has been transferred to this district for decision because of the fact that one of the Justices of the Third District was the trial judge in the case.
The plaintiff went to work for the State Auditor of Public Accounts on December 15, 1957. He worked as an examiner in the Cemetery Care Division. On July 1, 1958, this division was incorporated into the newly formed Department of Financial Institutions, and plaintiff continued to work for that department as an examiner in the Cemetery Care Division. In this position, the plaintiff was covered by the Personnel Code, Ill. Rev Stats c 127, § 63(b)111, and could be discharged only for cause.
The principal function of an examiner in the Cemetery Care Division is to audit cemetery associations which are licensed by the State and entrusted with care funds or trust funds, to see that these funds are properly used and invested and that the books of the associations are properly kept.
The plaintiff was elected Town Clerk of the town of Canton in April of 1957, and served in that position until March of 1961. His main duty in that job was to keep the minutes of the meetings of the Town Board of Auditors. These meetings were held once a month, commencing at about 2:30 p.m. and lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. Plaintiff attended all or most of the meetings of the Board during his term of office, which was contemporaneous with his employment by the State of Illinois. From the record, it appears that his superiors in the Division of Cemetery Care were aware of his position as Town Clerk, and that no objection was ever raised. In fact, it does not appear that the matter was ever discussed. There is no evidence that the plaintiff made any effort to conceal the fact that he did have this additional employment as Town Clerk.
Plaintiff ceased his employment as Town Clerk on March 29, 1961. Ten months later, on January 22, 1962, he was discharged from his position in the Division of Cemetery Care. He requested a hearing before the Civil Service Commission, and a hearing was held before a hearing examiner of that Commission. The formal charges against the plaintiff contained various allegations as to which no evidence was offered at the hearing, and other allegations as to which the Commission made no findings. We will confine ourselves to the findings which the Commission did make which were as follows:
"15. The Respondent held the position of Town Clerk for the Town of Canton, Illinois, from April, 1957 until March, 1961 (R-298-294). The Board of Town Auditors, Town of Canton, Illinois held monthly meetings during the aforesaid period, all of which were attended by Respondent (R-94). Such meetings would commence "sometimes after 2:30 in the afternoon" and were from one-half hour to forty-five minutes in duration (R-294). Respondent was compensated for his attendance at such meetings (R-336). Such time as was utilized by Respondent in attendance at such meetings should properly have been devoted to the discharge of his duties as Financial Institutions Examiner 1, Cemetery Care Division.
"16. As evidenced by that part of Petitioner's Exhibit No. 5 which relates to the activities of Respondent on March 28 through 31, inclusive of 1960, Respondent represented through travel vouchers submitted to the Department of Financial Institutions that he had proceeded on March 28, 1960 from Norris, Illinois to Galesburg, Illinois in the vicinity of which he remained until March 31, 1960 at which date he returned to Norris, Illinois. Respondent executed said voucher and received payment for said period of travel (R-355).
"17. As evidenced by that part of Petitioner's Exhibit No. 11 which relates to the meeting of the Board of Town Auditors of the Town of Canton, Illinois held on March 29, 1960 in Canton, Illinois, Respondent was present at said meeting in his capacity of Town Clerk (R-356).
"18. The Respondent, Robert M. Davis, as charged herein, did interrupt State business to engage in personal endeavors, utilized State time for personal use, submitted incorrect travel vouchers, (Petitioner's Exhibit No. 5) and is therefore guilty of failure to perform properly his duties as a Financial Institutions Examiner 1."
The trial court reviewed the record of the proceedings before the Civil Service Commission and held that these findings were against the manifest weight of the evidence. An order was entered reinstating plaintiff to his position with back pay from the date of his discharge. The defendants have appealed from this order, asserting that there was evidence which fairly tended to support the administrative decision.
Simply stated, the Commission made just two findings which are relied upon to support plaintiff's discharge:
1. Plaintiff attended the town meetings on time he should have been devoting to his employment with the State;
2. Plaintiff submitted a travel voucher indicating that he was in Galesburg from March 28 through March 31, 1960, whereas, in fact, he attended a ...