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Cartwright v. Ill. Civil Service Com.

OPINION FILED JANUARY 28, 1980.

DONALD CARTWRIGHT, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

ILLINOIS CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RICHARD L. CURRY, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MCGLOON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendants Civil Service Commission, State of Illinois, and Department of Corrections, appeal from a complaint for administrative review that reversed the Commission's decision to discharge plaintiff Donald Cartwright. Plaintiff was in charge of security at the Stateville Correctional Center and was discharged, after a hearing, for failing to reprimand a guard who placed a choke hold on an unruly resident of the institution. The Commission discharged plaintiff even though the hearing officer recommended a 60-day suspension. On admininstrative review, the trial court ordered that plaintiff be reinstated with no loss of benefits. Defendants appealed.

On appeal, defendants argue that the trial court erred in concluding (1) that plaintiff should have appeared before the Employee Review Board rather than the Inquiry Board; (2) that charge IV was not written with sufficient clarity to inform plaintiff of the charge against him; (3) that plaintiff's discharge was not warranted; and (4) that the hearing officer's conclusion that plaintiff was not guilty of charge III was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.

We affirm.

Plaintiff Donald Cartwright was the chief of security II at the Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet from July 1, 1975, to June 10, 1977. As chief of security, plaintiff was responsible for security within the cell blocks.

During January of 1977, Stateville was the scene of prisoner unrest and violence. On January 10, two prison guards were stabbed, one fatally. As a result, Warden Brierton placed the institution under "lock up." Further disturbances occurred, precipitating a decision to transfer some of the more troublesome inmates to other institutions. The transfer was scheduled for January 16.

On January 16, the inmates to be transferred were taken from their cells and brought to a staging area on the ground floor. There they were placed in a line and moved into waiting buses. Overseeing the transfer were Warden Brierton, Assistant Wardens Kapture and Wallenstein, and plaintiff.

The first inmate brought to the staging room was John Withers. He was upset at being transferred. After being handcuffed to the transfer chain, he began strenuously objecting. After several minutes of such conduct, Warden Brierton ordered that Withers be taken off the chain and placed in the washroom located in the room. Captain Stokes removed Withers from the chain, placed a "choke hold" on him, and placed him in the washroom. Witnessing the incident were Warden Brierton, Assistant Warden Kapture, plaintiff, and others.

Exactly what transpired inside the washroom is disputed. Assistant Warden Kapture later testified that plaintiff walked into the washroom and struck Withers with an open palm. Plaintiff denied ever striking Withers. Warden Brierton testified that he did not observe plaintiff strike Withers, although there was evidence that he did not have a clear view of the washroom.

Subsequently, an investigation was conducted in connection with alleged inmate beatings that occurred during the January 10-16, 1977, period. On June 10, 1977, plaintiff was presented with the following written charges:

"1. On January 15, 1977, Chief of Security Cartwright did use unnecessary force against resident Delbert Wooten. In that, Chief of Security struck resident Wooten with a Black Jack without proper justification. This is in violation of Administrative Regulation #803.

2. On January 15, 1977, Chief of Security Cartwright did use unnecessary force against resident Reginald Mosby. In that, Chief of Security Cartwright entered the resident's cell and struck the resident without proper justification. This action is in violation of Administrative Regulation #803.

3. On January 16, 1977, Chief of Security Cartwright did use unnecessary force against Residents John Withers and Noffey Hollands. In that, while resident Withers was physically restrained by other staff, Chief of Security Cartwright struck the resident in the area of the head. In addition, Chief of Security Cartwright struck resident Hollands during the same incident. Both incidents were without proper justification and is in violation of Administrative Regulation #803.

4. On January 16, 1977, Chief of Security Cartwright did condone the use of unnecessary force against residents John Withers and Noffey Hollands. In that, Chief of Security Cartwright, who was the chief security officer at the institution, did not restrain and/or attempt to restrain subordinate staff from striking the ...


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