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Jordan v. Civil Service Com.

MARCH 15, 1972.

THOMAS JORDAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EDWARD F. HEALY, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE ADESKO DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, the Civil Service Commission of the City of Chicago, appeals from an administrative review proceeding in which the Circuit Court of Cook County set aside the discharge of plaintiff from his employment as a license investigator for the City of Chicago.

On appeal defendant contends that the court erred in setting aside plaintiff's dismissal as (1) the trial court failed to review two findings of the Civil Service Commission which were in themselves sufficient to support the discharge of plaintiff; (2) a licensed private detective is required to answer questions propounded to him by the Illinois Crime Investigating Commission or its Executive Director; and (3) the finding of the Civil Service Commission that plaintiff was guilty of a conflict of interest is supported by the manifest weight of the evidence. The facts are as follows:

Plaintiff, Thomas Jordan was employed as a supervisory license investigator in the office of the City Collector of the City of Chicago for approximately 16 years. His duties were to supervise 6 or 7 license investigators who go from door to door checking business licenses and to check the districts himself from time to time. Plaintiff's working hours were from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Plaintiff was required to spend these working hours on the office premises throughout the week, except that on Tuesdays and Fridays, which were court days on which the license inspectors came in for cases coming up in court, plaintiff was supposed to be in at one o'clock to check the men in and to check their work. On occasion, plaintiff was also expected to work in the evening, as some of the places to be inspected did not open until after 5:00 P.M.

Plaintiff testified before the Civil Service Commission that he was the founder of Jordan Service, Inc., a licensed private detective agency and guard service with offices in downtown Chicago. He testified that he established the firm as a proprietorship in 1960 to occupy his retired father's time and that the firm was subsequently incorporated in late 1963 or early 1964. Plaintiff testified that his sister Josephine Jordan owned 100 per cent of the corporation stock. He also testified that the daily operations of the firm were handled by a chief investigator and a clerical staff, and that since the incorporation of the firm, plaintiff had not actively managed the firm, but had merely been a salaried employee, without assigned hours and whose service was primarily advisory.

The plaintiff's employment with, or operation of, the private detective agency had been a subject of some concern to the City Collector, William Prendergast for several years. In April 1962, Mr. Prendergast suspended plaintiff and told him that he was to disassociate himself from the Jordan Service Company. On May 27, 1962, Jordan delivered a letter to Mr. Prendergast admitting his ownership of Jordan Service Company, but guard (watchmen) work and is almost exclusively evening and night pointed out that the bulk of the firm's work was "* * * uniformed work." Jordan further stated that "[i]n the future, as in the past, I will not allow any agency business to interfere or conflict with my assigned working hours as prescribed by the City Collector's Office." Although the letter contained no promise to totally disassociate himself financially, or otherwise, from Jordan Service Company, Mr. Prendergast testified that he reinstated plaintiff as a result of this letter.

In November, 1963, Mr. Prendergast again suspended Jordan as a result of his failure to disassociate himself from the Jordan Service Company. Jordan, who had subsequently been granted a six month leave of absence, was told that he could not return until he had severed all connections "* * * both financially and work-wise, with the Jordan Service Company." On November 6, 1964, Jordan delivered to Prendergast a letter from Harry Lockhard, the President of Jordan Service Company, which explained that Jordan was "* * * no longer conducting investigations for Jordan Service * * and it is no longer necessary for Mr. Jordan to be active in the operation of the agency * * *". Plaintiff was again reinstated.

The events which gave rise to the proceedings in the instant case began in April 1967 when plaintiff was subpoened by Charles Siragusa, Executive Director of the Illinois Crime Investigating Commission. Jordan was advised by his attorney that the subpoena was invalid and that in no event could he (Jordan) answer any questions concerning clientele of the Jordan Service Company. Nevertheless, Jordan telephoned Mr. Siragusa and informed him that if the subpoena were discharged, both he and Lockhard, the President of Jordan Service Company, would appear voluntarily.

When Lockhard and Jordan appeared at Mr. Siragusa's office, they were informed that a witness in a pending prosecution in the Circuit Court had been advised that Lockhard was attempting to obtain the witnesses' automobile license plate number. Siragusa then asked for the name of Jordan Service's client. Jordan explained to Siragusa that he and Lockhard were absolutely prohibited by the Detectives and Investigators' Act from disclosing to him or to anyone else, the names of Jordan Service's clients, unless required by law to do so. Jordan explained that his attorney had given him this advice. Jordan did answer all of Siragusa's other questions, however, refusing to answer only those concerning investigations which had been conducted by Jordan Service.

Siragusa reported plaintiff's refusal to answer certain questions to Commissioner McInerney of the Department of Investigation of the City of Chicago, who assured him that the City Collector would be informed. The City Collector was also informed that Jordan had been present at the Jordan Service premises on April 3, 1967, when an investigator for the Crime Commission served a subpoena to appear before Siragusa.

On April 14, 1967, City Collector Prendergast received an "anonymous telephone call" and as a result of the call, phoned Jordan Service Company at approximately 2:30 P.M. and asked for Jordan. Jordan answered and was asked "[w]hat are you doing in the office when you are supposed to be working for the City Collector?" Jordan replied that he had gone there to keep a luncheon engagement and although license supervisors were ordinarily supposed to take their lunch hours prior to 1:00 P.M. on Fridays, when they had court appearances to make, City Collector Prendergast testified that he knew of no court appearances which Jordan was required to make on the day in question, and no policy reasons why Jordan could not have taken his lunch hour when he saw fit.

On June 8, 1967, the City Collector filed charges against Jordan with the Civil Service Commission of Chicago. A hearing was held before the full Commission on July 19, 1967, and on September 13, 1967, the Civil Service Commission found that:

"From April 1, 1967 through April 20, 1967, the said Thomas Jordan was guilty of `Conduct Unbecoming An Employee of the City of Chicago', in that the said Thomas Jordan did conduct himself in such a way as to be detrimental to the best interests of the City of Chicago. On April 3, 1967 and on April 14, 1967, the said Thomas Jordan was guilty of `Being Absent Without Permission', in that upon the dates aforesaid the said Thomas Jordan was present at 30 North La Salle Street, without permission of his department head.

In April of 1962 and on December 4, 1963, the said Thomas Jordan was guilty of `Disobedience of Orders', in that the said Thomas Jordan was ordered to disassociate himself both financially and work-wise with ...


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