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Myers v. Police & Corrections Merit Bd.

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 8, 1978.

DAVID S. MYERS ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

COOK COUNTY POLICE AND CORRECTIONS MERIT BOARD ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ROBERT E. McAULIFFE, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE LORENZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiffs brought this action under the Administrative Review Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 110, par. 264 et seq.) to review final administrative orders entered by the Cook County Police and Corrections Merit Board (Board) on February 13, 1976. The orders discharged plaintiffs from their positions with the Cook County Police Department (Department) for failure to obey orders to submit to polygraph examinations. The circuit court reversed the decision of the Board. On appeal defendants contend that plaintiffs' refusal to obey the orders constituted grounds for discharge and that adequate evidence was adduced before the Board to support the discharge.

On August 25, 1965, the sheriff of Cook County filed complaints against plaintiffs before the Board, charging that on August 23, 1965, plaintiffs were ordered to submit to polygraph examinations in regard to:

"(A). The unauthorized release of information, to unauthorized persons, pertaining to an investigation of an alleged bribe of Patrolman Donald Shaw by Joseph Auippa and Jacob Bergbreiter.

(B). The unauthorized release of information to unauthorized persons pertaining to investigations and/or planned raids that were conducted by the Vice Control Unit of the County Police Department of Cook County at any time since the RESPONDENT has been a member of the County Police Department of Cook County."

The complaints further alleged that plaintiffs failed to submit to the polygraph examinations and that such failure was in violation of the Department Rules and Regulations, the Board's Rules and Regulations, and the oath of office taken by plaintiffs.

At the consolidated hearing before the Board the following pertinent evidence was adduced.

Lieutenant Richard Lowthorp

He is director of the Sheriff's Police Department Vice Commission and responsible for internal investigation of complaints against Department members. On August 20, 1965, he accompanied plaintiffs to the offices of John M. Reid & Associates, a private firm administering polygraph examinations, where he ordered them to submit to polygraph examinations in regard to "a current investigation." Plaintiffs refused to comply with the orders, stating that they wished to consult attorneys. Returning with plaintiffs to his office, he again ordered them to take the examinations. They again refused, requested an opportunity to consult attorneys and inquired as to the nature of the investigations. He informed them that the polygraph examinations would concern "the unauthorized release of information to unauthorized persons" concerning an investigation being conducted by the Department's Vice Control Unit and the unauthorized release of information concerning raids being planned or conducted by the Sheriff's Police.

Plaintiffs returned to his office on the morning of Monday, August 23, 1965, and requested both additional time to consult their attorneys and a list of the specific questions to be asked in the polygraph examinations. Upon their refusal to take the examinations at the time, he ordered them suspended from duty.

He further testified that the Department Rules and Regulations provided that members of the Department may be ordered to submit to polygraph examinations "in connection with criminal matters or complaints against Department members." He stated that a complaint within the meaning of this rule had been filed against plaintiffs by Chief Arthur J. Bilek of the Sheriff's Police on August 19, 1965. Chief Bilek instructed him to suspend plaintiffs if they failed to submit to the polygraph examinations.

Chief Arthur J. Bilek, Cook County Sheriff's Police Department

During the summer of 1965 he became aware of "an apparent disclosure of confidential information to unauthorized sources" concerning a Department investigation of "the Aiuppa-Shaw matter." He was informed by "a member of the Sheriff's Police Force" that, according to an unidentified informant, plaintiffs might be the source of this unauthorized release of information. Thereafter, on August 20, 1965, he ordered Lowthorp to request that plaintiffs take polygraph examinations concerning the unauthorized release.

On the afternoon of Friday, August 20, 1965, he personally told plaintiffs that he "felt a polygraph examination would be necessary in the Department's interest" and told them the areas upon which they would be examined. He then allowed plaintiffs ...


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