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03/31/87 the People Ex Rel. John R. v. the Bureau County Merit

March 31, 1987

COUNTY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

THE BUREAU COUNTY MERIT COMMISSION ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT

THE PEOPLE ex rel. JOHN R. NARCZEWSKI, Sheriff of Bureau

506 N.E.2d 402, 154 Ill. App. 3d 732, 106 Ill. Dec. 695 1987.IL.417

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Bureau County; the Hon. Richard R. Wilder, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE HEIPLE delivered the opinion of the court. BARRY, P.J., and WOMBACHER, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE HEIPLE

This case presents the question of whether a writ of prohibition should be entered against the Bureau County merit commission (commission) to prevent it from holding a hearing and determining whether it has jurisdiction to review a written reprimand issued by a sheriff to his deputy. The circuit court of Bureau County held that the commission should determine whether it had jurisdiction and denied the writ of prohibition sought by the sheriff. The court also permitted the commission to employ private counsel at county expense since the State's Attorney elected to represent the sheriff's opposing interests. We award the writ of prohibition and remand the cause for determination of attorney fees.

This now convoluted case had a very simple beginning. On May 1, 1986, Bureau County Sheriff John Narczewski disciplined Deputy Sheriff Gregory Johnson by means of a written reprimand which is set out below:

"Dear Lieutenant Johnson:

This is in reference to the meeting on this date in my office regarding the Kenny Seibech incident that occurred last evening, April 30th, at the Bureau County Jail. Mr. Seibech has indicated to me that civil charges against you and the Bureau County Sheriff's Department may occur in the near future.

It is my wish that you use more self-control when dealing with inmates lodged at the County Jail. It is my belief that you violated Rule #10 of the Rules and Regulations for Jail Personnel."

Deputy Johnson, through his attorney, contacted the commission and requested a hearing. Had the commission denied the request on grounds that it lacked the authority to review this disciplinary action, as it should have done, the matter would have ended as simply as it began. However, in response to Deputy Johnson's request, the chairman of the commission scheduled a public hearing to be held on May 15, 1986.

The State's Attorney informed the commission that he would be representing the sheriff and would contest the jurisdiction of the commission to review the disciplinary action. The State's Attorney, on behalf of the sheriff, filed a complaint for temporary and permanent prohibition against the commission, seeking to prevent the commission from holding the public hearing or exercising any jurisdiction over the matter. The circuit court granted a temporary order of prohibition and further ordered the commission to respond to the complaint and show cause why the order should not be made permanent.

The State's Attorney wrote to the chairman of the commission and indicated that he was representing the sheriff only and believed the commission was acting without jurisdiction. He also informed the commission that he did not have authority to allow the commission to expend public funds to obtain outside counsel and ...


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