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Thomas v. Police Bd.

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 17, 1980.

LEMAR THOMAS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

POLICE BOARD OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



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

MR. JUSTICE MCGLOON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Chicago police officer Lemar Thomas was discharged after a hearing for violating Rule 2 of the Chicago Police Department. The trial court affirmed the decision of the Board. Thomas appeals.

On appeal, Thomas contends that (1) the decision of the Board is against the manifest weight of the evidence; (2) the police Board rule which he was found guilty of violating is unconstitutionally vague; (3) the Board improperly considered hearsay evidence; and (4) the penalty imposed was too severe.

We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand with directions.

Lemar Thomas, a police officer with nine years' experience, was found guilty by the Chicago Police Board (the Board) of violating the following police department rule:

"Rule 2. Any action or conduct which impedes the department's efforts to achieve its policy and goals or brings discredit upon the Department."

Three witnesses testified at the hearing before the police Board. Basil Del Guidice, an officer assigned to the police department's internal affairs division, identified department records indicating the type of automobile owned by Thomas and the license plate numbers.

Raymond J. Bondurand, a court clerk in the multiple parking division record department, identified the contents of the court files on parking tickets issued to Thomas' car. One of the documents listed each of the 99 tickets issued to Thomas in 1975 and the license number of the auto to which the tickets were issued. He further identified a scofflaw warrant which was issued for Thomas' failure to pay the tickets. A warrant recall was issued upon the court's entry of a stay of mittimus to pay. The record also indicated that Thomas made a $500 payment on the fines imposed.

A second document listed each of the 75 parking tickets issued to Thomas' car in 1976. Writing on the face of the document indicated that the court entered a stay of mittimus to pay and imposed a $1,000 fine. A scofflaw warrant was also issued.

Bondurand also identified a computer print-out listing 27 parking tickets received by Thomas in 1977 and an abstract prepared by the circuit court clerk. The abstract, dated November 9, 1978, shows the amounts paid and due on the 1975 and 1976 tickets. Thomas had paid $865 and owed $2,135.

Sergeant John P. O'Donnell of the police department's internal affairs division testified that he spoke with Thomas on December 29, 1977. On this day, he served the warrant issued for the 1976 tickets and gave Thomas a copy of the charges against him. O'Donnell met with Thomas again on January 12, 1978, at which time Thomas made a statement.

Thomas testified that he had knowledge of only 14 tickets in 1975, 10 in 1976 and 4 in 1977. His wife was responsible for the remaining tickets. Thomas further testified that he had not refused to pay the fines.

After the hearing, the Board found that Thomas had violated Rule 2 in the following respects:

"(1) He was arrested on or about August 3, 1977 for failure to pay parking tickets received in 1975 and thereafter ...


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