Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 08 CH 26205 The Honorable Kathleen M. Pantle, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Garcia
JUSTICE GARCIA delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Presiding Justice R. E. Gordon and Justice Lampkin concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 Plaintiff Robert E. Taylor, Sr. appeals the decision of the Police Board of the City of Chicago (Board) discharging him from his position as a Chicago police officer for committing perjury in violation of Rule 1 of the Chicago Police Department (Department), which prohibits "[v]violation of any law or ordinance," and for making false statements before two different tribunals in violation of the Department's Rule 2, which prohibits "[a]ny action or conduct which impedes the Department's efforts to achieve its policy and goals or brings discredit upon the Department." Chicago Police Department Rules and Regulations, art. v, Rs. 1,2 (1973) (Published Online 2011). Taylor contends the Board's prior disciplinary action against him for bigamy, in which he was found not guilty, precludes the instant action based on res judicata. We find the bigamy charges stemmed from a different group of operative facts than the perjury and false statements charges for res judicata purposes. Taylor also argues he was not guilty of perjury because the allegedly perjurious testimony was not material to the proceeding in which it was given. In a criminal proceeding involving charges of harassment against his second wife, Taylor falsely stated that he did not testify in a divorce proceeding involving his first wife. We agree with Taylor that whether he testified in the prior divorce proceeding had no bearing on the issues in the criminal proceeding involving a charge of criminal harassment against his second wife. Because the false testimony was not material to the disposition of the criminal proceeding, Taylor did not commit perjury. However, the Board's decision that Taylor knowingly made false statements in that criminal proceeding and in the divorce proceeding involving his first wife was not against the manifest weight of the evidence. We do not disturb the Board's conclusion that Taylor violated the Chicago Police Department's Rule 2. We reverse in part and remand for reconsideration of the appropriate punishment based solely on the violations of Rule 2.
¶ 3 Taylor was a Chicago police officer from October 23, 1973, until his discharge on June 19, 2008. During that time he received over 20 honorable mentions for his work with the Department, a commendation from the Department for bringing credit to the Department, and a letter from the Chicago Transit Authority commending his work. He was, however, subject to six disciplinary actions, including three episodes of suspension without pay for failure to attend court in 2004 and a reprimand for engaging in a preventable accident that same year.
¶ 4 Taylor and Tamela R. Baker were married in 1982, and Robert (Robbie) E. Taylor III was born to the marriage. Taylor and Tamela lived together in Chicago until Tamela moved to Sikeston, Missouri, with Robbie in 1995. According to Taylor, he hired an attorney to secure a divorce from Tamela and assumed the attorney did so while Taylor made frequent trips overseas to serve in the United States Air Force Reserves.
¶ 5 In November 2002, Taylor and Bridgette A. Jones applied for a marriage license. Taylor indicated in the application that he had never before been married. He and Bridgette were married in December 2002.
¶ 6 In January 2004, Taylor filed a petition for dissolution of his marriage to Tamela. Although he knew Tamela lived in Sikeston, Missouri, and had spoken with Tamela and Robbie on the telephone at the address where they lived, Taylor certified in the petition that he was unaware of Tamela's "current residence or whereabouts." His counsel served Tamela with notice of the divorce proceeding by publication. At a prove-up hearing on March 10, 2004, before Judge Eileen Brewer, Taylor was asked, "So you just could not find out where she lives?" He responded, "That's correct, your Honor." The judge then entered a judgment for dissolution of marriage.
¶ 7 In August 2004, Taylor pressed criminal charges against Bridgette, alleging that after she learned he was still married to Tamela while he was married to Bridgette, she damaged some of his property and threatened in a telephone call that she would inform the Department that he had committed bigamy, which would jeopardize his employment. At a hearing on the charges before Judge Gloria Coco, Bridgette's counsel asked Taylor on cross-examination about the divorce proceeding before Judge Brewer in an attempt to challenge his credibility by establishing he had falsely stated in the divorce proceeding that he was unable to locate Tamela to serve her with notice of his petition for dissolution of marriage.
"Q. Do you remember Judge Brewer saying to you, 'Can you tell me how you tried to let her know about this divorce?' Do you remember her asking you that?
A. I never appeared in that court. A lawyer appeared in that court.
Q. Is it your testimony that you did not appear in front of Judge Eileen Mary Brewer on March 10, 2004, to prove up your divorce against Tam[e]la? Is that your testimony?
A. A lawyer went in there. He did the case. I did not stand in front of the Judge, as best I can recall.
Q. You could get in some trouble with the police department for obtaining a divorce through perjured testimony, would you not agree?
A. I did not perjure - - I did not stand in front of the Judge."
¶ 8 On October 4, 2005, the Department sought to discharge Taylor for committing bigamy ("Taylor I"), alleging he was married to both Tamela and Bridgette from December 2002 until his divorce from Tamela was finalized in March 2004. After a hearing, the Board found Taylor not guilty of bigamy because he "reasonably believed that he was legally eligible to marry [Bridgette]."
¶ 9 In September 2007, the Department brought another disciplinary action seeking to discharge Taylor ("Taylor II"), alleging that he violated Rules 1 and 2 of the Department's Rules and Regulations. Rule 1 prohibits "[v]violation of any law or ordinance," and Rule 2 prohibits "[a]ny action or conduct which impedes the Department's efforts to achieve its policy and goals or brings discredit upon the Department." Chicago Police Department Rules and Regulations, art. V, Rs. 1, 2 (2011). The Department alleged Taylor violated Rule 1 by giving perjured testimony in the criminal proceeding when he stated he never appeared or testified before Judge Brewer in his divorce prove-up. The Department also alleged Taylor committed three violations of Rule 2: (1) making the false statement during the criminal proceeding; (2) falsely stating on his marriage license application with Bridgette that this would be his first marriage; and (3) falsely certifying in the petition for dissolution of marriage regarding Tamela that he did not know her whereabouts.
¶ 10 Taylor moved to dismiss the charges against him on res judicata and collateral estoppel grounds. He contended the charges could have been brought against him in Taylor I. A hearing officer rejected Taylor's contentions. "The fact that both sets of charges arise from Officer Taylor's earlier marriages does not mean the two sets of allegations arise from the same set of operative facts. *** I cannot agree that the two sets of charges arise from the same set of operative facts." The four violations proceeded to a hearing before the Board.
¶ 11 The Board held an evidentiary hearing on February 20, 2008, and March 11, 2008, at which Taylor, Tamela, Robbie, and Bridgette testified. In a decision dated June 19, 2008, the Board rejected Taylor's collateral estoppel argument, concluding "the issues in Taylor II *** are totally different than the issue in Taylor I." As to his res judicata claim, the Board held that "[Taylor's] perjury before Judge Coco did not arise from the same core of operative facts which led to the charge that Respondent was married to two women at the same time." It ruled similarly regarding the allegation that Taylor falsely stated that he did not know the whereabouts of Tamela when he filed for divorce. The Board agreed with Taylor, however, that the allegation that he falsely stated on the marriage ...