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Department of Public Aid v. Brazziel

OPINION FILED JUNE 5, 1978.

THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC AID, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

JOSEPH BRAZZIEL ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARTHUR L. DUNNE, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE O'CONNOR DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff, Illinois Department of Public Aid (Department), appeals from the judgment of the circuit court of Cook County which affirmed a final decision of defendant Illinois Civil Service Commission (Commission) and also entered a declaratory judgment upholding the validity of a Commission rule. The issue presented is whether the challenged rule, granting a party the right to interview State employees on State property during working hours, is invalid because it exceeds the statutory rulemaking power of the Commission.

Defendant Joseph Brazziel was an employee of the Department of Public Aid in a position covered by the provisions of the Illinois Personnel Code. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 127, par. 63b101 et seq.) The Department instituted proceedings to demote Brazziel for cause. The reasons for this action are no longer relevant here; it is sufficient to state that Brazziel's superiors and subordinates with the Department were among the witnesses who had knowledge of the facts upon which the action was founded. Brazziel resisted the demotion and requested a hearing before the Commission, as provided in section 11 of the Personnel Code. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 127, par. 63b111.) Pursuant to section 9.04 of the Rules of the Civil Service Commission, Brazziel moved for interviews with certain employees of the Department, such interviews to take place while the employees were on the job during regular business hours. The Commission granted the motion over the Department's objection, but the Department nevertheless refused to permit the interviews. Brazziel moved for dismissal of the demotion proceeding for failure of the Department to comply with the rule, and the Commission granted the motion.

The Department thereafter filed a two-count complaint in the circuit court of Cook County. Count I sought review of the dismissal pursuant to the Administrative Review Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 110, par. 264 et seq.) Count II prayed for a declaratory judgment holding the Commission rule invalid. The court reviewed the record and received briefs on the question of law presented and, after arguments were heard, entered judgment for defendants on both counts of the complaint.

The rule in question states in full:

"Any party or their representative shall have the right, upon timely motion, to inspect any relevant documents in the possession of or under the control of any other party and to interview employees having knowledge of relevant facts. Interviews of employees and inspection of documents shall be at times and places reasonable for the employee and for the appointing power." (Rule 9.04 of the Illinois Civil Service Commission.)

Section 10 of the Personnel Code states in pertinent part:

"§ 10. Duties and powers of the Commission. The Civil Service Commission shall have duties and powers as follows:

(6) To hear and determine written charges filed seeking the discharge, demotion of employees and suspension totaling more than thirty days in any 12-month period, as provided in Section 11 hereof, and appeals from transfers from one geographical area in the State to another, and in connection therewith to administer oaths, subpoena witnesses, and compel the production of books and papers.

(11) To make rules to carry out and implement their powers and duties under this Act, with authority to amend such rules from time to time." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 127, par. 63b110.)

Section 11 provides in pertinent part:

"§ 11. Hearings — Disciplinary action. * * * Upon the filing of such a request for a hearing, the Commission shall grant a hearing within 30 days. * * * The finding and decision of the Commission, or the approval by the Commission of the finding and decision of the officer or board appointed by it to conduct such investigation, shall be rendered within 60 days after the receipt of the transcript of the proceedings. If the finding and decision is not rendered within 60 days after receipt of the transcript of the proceedings, the employee shall be considered to be reinstated and shall receive full compensation for the period for which he was suspended. * * *" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 127, par. 63b111.)

In addition, section 16 provides in pertinent part:

"§ 16. Duties of State Officers and Employees. All officers * * * and employees of the State shall comply with and aid in all proper ways in carrying out this law and the rules, regulations, and orders thereunder. All such officers and employees shall furnish any records or information which the Director or the Commission may ...


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