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Sgro v. City of Springfield

JULY 18, 1972.

PETER SGRO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

THE CITY OF SPRINGFIELD ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Sangamoun County; the Hon. CREEL DOUGLASS, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SIMKINS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

On May 4, 1957, Plaintiff-Appellee, Peter Sgro, was certified by the City Civil Service Commission of Springfield, Illinois, as a Civil Service employee with the title of Supervisor of Weights, Measures and Sanitation. On February 2, 1970, Joseph P. Knox, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health and Safety filed written charges against plaintiff who was an employee of that department. The charges were undated and unsigned. The charges were lengthy, but in essence alleged improper absences from work, and failure to perform certain inspections of business establishments pursuant to the duties assigned to him. Plaintiff was, according to his Complaint for Administrative Review, suspended from his position on September 1, 1969.

The record indicates that a hearing on the charges was set before the Civil Service Commission on November 21, 1969, and then reset to a subsequent date. On March 31, 1970, after notice of Sgro, the Commission convened for the purpose of hearing the charges. Plaintiff and his attorney Robert Weiner appeared and requested a continuance which was denied. No evidence was taken during the proceedings which were terminated by the Commission directing the City Attorney to prepare an order removing and discharging plaintiff from his position with the City. The written order was entered May 4, 1970, and recites that the Commission had considered the written charges, that the written charges were allowed and that plaintiff was discharged as an employee of the City of Springfield.

On May 26, 1970, plaintiff filed his Complaint for Administrative Review. On November 25, 1970, the trial judge entered an order finding that the order of the Civil Service Commission entered May 4, 1970, was null and void, directed that plaintiff be restored to his position with the City, that all back salary, commencing September 1, 1969, to date be paid to plaintiff and that the written charges which were filed with the Commission be dismissed.

On December 4, 1970, the defendants-appellants moved the trial court to vacate or modify its order of May 25th. They urged that the only record before the Court was the record of the proceedings had before the Commission on March 31, 1970, and that the record before the Court did not justify the court in ordering plaintiff's restoration to his former position, payment of salary and dismissal of the written charges. The motion prayed for remand to the Commission for the taking of evidence and also prayed that the Court make findings of fact and state conclusions of law.

On May 7, 1971, the trial judge entered an Amended Order. This Amended Order contained the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

"That Plaintiff was suspended from his position with the City on September 1, 1969, and since said time has not received pay or any manner of compensation from said City.

That a purported Order of Removal was executed on May 4, 1970, by the Chairman and other members of the Civil Service Commission of the City of Springfield, Illinois, and served on the Plaintiff through the United States mails.

That the purported Order of Removal affected the rights of the Plaintiff.

* * * Nor was there any evidence produced upon which any finding of fact could be made by said Civil Service Commission upon which to base its purported Order of Removal.

The Court further states as a matter of law that the rights guaranteed the Plaintiff under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States and Section 2 of Article II of the Constitution of the State of Illinois 1870, have been violated and that Plaintiff's discharge from his Civil Service status was therefore without due process of law."

The Court then set aside the order discharging plaintiff from his position, and ordered that he be reinstated with back pay and that the charges before the Commission be dismissed.

• 1 The defendants urge that the trial court had no authority to order plaintiff's reinstatement or to order payment of back salary.

The authority of the Circuit Court in a proceeding to review the decision of an administrative agency is delineated in Ch. 110, Sec. 275, Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969. The provisions therein contained are identical with the provisions of Ch. 110, Sec. 275, Ill. Rev. Stat. 1945, which was considered by the ...


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