APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EDWARD
F. HEALY, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE SIMON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Dr. Ricardo Munoz filed a complaint in the circuit court for judicial review of a decision of the Civil Service Commission (hereinafter referred to as "the Commission") pursuant to the provisions of the Administrative Review Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 110, § 264 et seq.). The circuit court concluded that the findings of the Commission were supported by the manifest weight of the evidence and affirmed the findings and the discharge of the plaintiff from his position with the Department of Mental Health (hereafter referred to as "DMH").
DMH initiated discharge proceedings against Dr. Munoz, an employee at Elgin State Hospital (hereafter referred to as "Elgin"), pursuant to the provisions of the Personnel Code. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 127, § 63b 101 et seq.) The charges filed fell within three general categories: (1) that Dr. Munoz secured employment with DMH through the use of false and misleading information on his employment application; (2) that he obtained a limited license to practice medicine in State institutions by submitting false and misleading information to the Illinois Department of Registration and Education; and (3) that he did not perform his duties for DMH in a satisfactory manner because of his failure to practice medicine competently and in conformity with accepted medical community standards.
On appeal, Dr. Munoz argues that the evidence proved neither that he failed to practice medicine in conformity with accepted standards nor that he obtained his employment and license through false and misleading representations. In addition, he contends that whether he obtained his limited license to practice medicine by submitting false information to the Department of Registration and Education is a decision to be made only by that Department and not by the Commission. Dr. Munoz also contends that the Commission improperly considered signature exemplars which were not authenticated in concluding that his diploma from the University of Havana Medical School was not genuine.
A review of the evidence relating to misrepresentations and false statements made by Dr. Munoz in applying for employment with DMH and in obtaining his limited license to practice medicine in State institutions reveals the following:
Dr. Kenneth Schnepp testified that he was the chairman of the Medical Examining Committee of the Department of Registration and Education. Dr. Munoz applied for a license in 1967, furnishing a letter of recommendation from Dr. Kearns, the director of the clinical laboratory at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Chicago, stating that Dr. Munoz was a supervisor of medical technicians in the pathology lab at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Chicago for 4 years and that he took a post-graduate course in general medicine there from March 1966 to June 1966. On the basis of the information provided, Dr. Munoz was given a license to practice medicine limited to State institutions. He passed an exam given by the Department of Personnel for the position of resident graduate physician and was subsequently employed by DMH.
Dr. Schnepp also testified that the records of the Department of Registration and Education indicated that a diploma allegedly issued to Dr. Munoz by the University of Havana School of Medicine in 1958 was verified by Jack Hayes, the superintendent of registration, on July 8, 1966. Dr. Schnepp visited the medical school for 2 days in 1958, and knew that it was closed at that time because of the revolution. Ms. Marcum, a licensing supervisor for the Department of Registration and Education, testified that personal verification of plaintiff's diploma by the superintendent of registration would be an unusual procedure. Ms. Klassen, another employee of the Department, testified that Mr. Hayes told her he had verified the diploma and she, therefore, noted in her handwriting on Dr. Munoz' application that the diploma was verified and signed Mr. Hayes' name. She testified, however, that it was unusual for the superintendent of registration to verify diplomas and that although she or the medical examining board ordinarily reviewed diplomas, Dr. Munoz' diploma was never presented to them.
On his application to the Department of Registration and Education, Dr. Munoz indicated that he had served a "rotating internship * * * at University Hospital from 1958 to 1960 (2 years)"; on an employment application to the Department of Personnel, he gave the same information. DMH introduced employment records showing that Dr. Munoz was employed in Mexico from January 1, 1959, to May 9, 1959, during the time he claimed to have served this internship.
On his employment application to DMH, Dr. Munoz stated that he was the "Head of Lab" at Ridgeway Hospital from 1962 to 1963, and acted in a supervisory capacity. He also responded that he had been "Chief of Lab" at the Board of Health from 1966 to 1968 and at St. Elizabeth's Hospital for 4 years from 1962 to 1966 under Dr. Kearns, also acting in a supervisory capacity in the latter position. *fn1 Henry Disteldorst, an administrator at Ridgeway Hospital, testified that Ricardo Munoz had been employed as a laboratory technician from 1962 to 1963, that he was the only employee in the laboratory and he ran only routine tests. Gerald Sullivan testified that he was an administrator at the Board of Health. He testified that Dr. Munoz worked there only as a chemist under the supervision of the lab director.
Sister Mary Bertram, administrator for St. Elizabeth's Hospital, testified that Ricardo Munoz was employed as a lab technician between 1962 and 1966. At no time was he employed in the capacity of a doctor. During Dr. Munoz' employment there, Dr. Kearns was chief of the lab, not Dr. Munoz. A chief technician, a position held by Sister Gerald, was under Dr. Kearns. Then assisting Sister Gerald were the lab technicians, and Dr. Munoz was one of them. In 1971, Dr. Munoz approached Sister Bertram and requested a letter of recommendation stating that he had completed an internship in pathology at St. Elizabeth's Hospital. Sister Bertram refused because there was no approved internship program at the hospital. He then asked Sister Bertram at least to state that he had worked in the pathology department and that whether this qualified as an internship would be for the Department of Registration and Education to decide. Dr. Munoz claimed that he had completed a post-graduate course, but Sister Bertram testified that there was only an in-service program for doctors at St. Elizabeth's to keep them abreast of developments in their fields. At the hearing Dr. Munoz produced the letter of recommendation referred to by Dr. Schnepp which Dr. Munoz claimed was written by Dr. Kearns. Sister Bertram testified that the usual practice at the hospital would be to place a copy of any letter of recommendation of that type in the person's personnel file as well as to note in that file any in-service programs the person had completed. There was no copy of Dr. Kearns' letter in Dr. Munoz' personnel file and no entry showing completion of a post-graduate course or an in-service program.
Dr. Manuel DePara, while employed at Elgin in the capacity of a physician III, became friendly with Dr. Munoz and had occasion to speak to him concerning his experiences at Elgin and his earlier training. He testified that Dr. Munoz told him that he had graduated from the University of Havana Medical School in 1958 and had then spent some time in Mexico until the spring of 1959. When he returned to Cuba, he had Commander Morgan, a high officer in the Castro regime, "fix" his papers for him. Dr. Munoz also told Dr. DePara that the medical school was closed in 1958 but that he had received credit for working in a hospital. Dr. DePara, who had graduated from the University of Havana Medical School in 1946, testified that he had been in Cuba in 1958 and knew of his own knowledge that the medical school was closed, but had never heard of a program that gave credit for working in hospitals.
Dr. DePara pointed to several discrepancies in the transcript and diploma of Dr. Munoz. These were: (1) that Cuban schools did not measure classroom credit by semester hours as indicated in the transcript; (2) the transcript listed the courses in an order in which they were not offered; (3) the transcript indicated that Dr. Munoz had taken a 5-year course whereas the program required 7 years to complete after a change in the curriculum in 1940; (4) the 1958 diploma of Dr. Munoz was in the same form as his own 1946 diploma rather than displomas issued during the 1950's; (5) there was no "tilde" over the n in Munoz on the diploma, even though Dr. Munoz spelled his name with it, as was proper; and (6) that the Spanish phrase for "1958" was not used and in its place was an incorrect literal translation from English.
Dr. Miligros Prieto, a doctor with DMH, testified that she had attended the University of Havana Medical School from 1942 to 1949. Her husband graduated in 1957. She identified both her diploma and her husband's, testified to their authenticity and that Dr. Inclan was rector of the medical school for many years including 1957. She testified that she had lived nearby and knew from personal experience that the medical school was closed in 1958. She compared her diploma and her husband's to the 1958 diploma of Dr. Munoz and noted all the discrepancies in the Munoz diploma that Dr. DePara had pointed out. In addition, she observed that the signature of the rector, Dr. Inclan, whom she knew, was misspelled, and the person whose name was signed as Minister of Education was no longer in that position at the time the diploma Dr. Munoz presented was issued.
To prove the charge that the diploma of Dr. Munoz was not authentic, DMH offered several diplomas received by various persons from the University of Havana Medical School for comparison with that of Dr. Munoz. Included were those of Dr. Prieto (1949) and her husband (1957), Dr. DePara (1946), Dr. Villa (1957), Dr. Bardelas (1959) and several others. Utilizing these diplomas as known exemplars, Mr. Doud, an expert document examiner, testified that the signature of the rector on the Munoz diploma was different than the one on the eight other diplomas but that the eight others were in the same handwriting. The printing style and format of the Munoz ...