Appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, No. 91 October Term, 1967, in case of City of Philadelphia v. Leroy Staton. Appeal transferred September 14, 1970, to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Mary Bell Hammerman, for appellant.
Matthew W. Bullock, Jr., First Deputy City Solicitor, with him Levy Anderson, City Solicitor, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman, and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Manderino, Mencer, and Rogers. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Manderino.
This appeal is from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, affirming a decision of the Civil Service Commission of the City of Philadelphia. The Commission upheld appellant's dismissal from his position as a police officer.
Section 7-201 of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter authorizes appeals to the Civil Service Commission and provides in part as follows: "Findings and decisions of the Commission and any action taken in conformance therewith as a result thereof shall be final and there shall be no further appeal on the merits, but there may be an appeal to the courts on jurisdictional or procedural grounds." The validity and effect of this provision of the Charter were passed upon by the Supreme Court in Addison Case, 385 Pa. 48, 122 A.2d 272 (1956); appeal dismissed, 352 U.S. 956, 77 S. Ct. 353, 1 L. ed. 2d 316. Section 7-201 was there held to be constitutional and its effect to be that appellate review is limited to questions of jurisdiction and the regularity of the proceedings. The merits of the controversy will not be considered by the reviewing court. These holdings, with the narrow exceptions hereafter noted, have been followed in numerous cases involving not only the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter but other legislation of similar import. Swank, Appellant v. Myers, 386 Pa. 331, 126 A.2d 267 (1956); Raby v. Board of Finance and Revenue, 405 Pa. 495, 176 A.2d 661 (1961); Lowry v. General Waterworks, 406 Pa. 152, 77 A.2d 82 (1962); O'Gorman Appeal, 409 Pa. 571, 187 A.2d 581 (1963); Penn Wynne et al. v. Lower Merion Township, 181 Pa. Super. 524, 124 A.2d 487 (1956).
The exceptions to the general rule that only jurisdiction and the regularity of the proceedings are subject to judicial scrutiny are, first, where the administrative
agency has exceeded the powers possessed by it and, second, where individual rights or property rights ordained or guaranteed by the Federal or State Constitution have been violated by the administrative agency or the lower court. DeVito v. Civil Service Commission, 404 Pa. 354, 172 A.2d 161 (1961).
Here, appellant raises no question as to jurisdiction or the regularity of the proceedings*fn1 nor does he contend that his constitutional rights have been violated. His sole contention is that his admitted transgressions of required standards of conduct did not justify the Commission's conclusion that his dismissal was for just cause and that therefore the Commission exceeded its powers in upholding his dismissal. Such reasoning if accepted would entirely nullify the general rule in this type of case and must be firmly rejected.
Nevertheless, we will make brief comment on appellant's contention.
Section 7-303 of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter provides: " Dismissal, Demotion and Suspension -- Any dismissal or demotion after the completion of the required probationary period of service, or suspension of any employee in the civil service shall be for just cause only." On August 19, 1966, while in uniform and off duty, the appellant went to a neighborhood bar, became embroiled in an argument with a 60-year-old man and struck the man in the face with such force as to knock him to the floor. ...