Appeals from the Orders of the Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission in cases of Appeal of Howard T. Clark, No. 1804; Appeal of Jack F. Best, No. 1803; and Appeal of Joseph A. Palmer, No. 1806.
William R. Strong, for petitioners.
Frank A. Fisher, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, with him Robert W. Cunliffe, Deputy Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for respondent.
Judges Crumlish, Jr. and Blatt, sitting as a panel of two. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.
The refusal of the Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission (Commission) to grant a motion for continuance on behalf of Petitioners, Jack F. Best, Howard T. Clark and Joseph A. Palmer, is the subject of this appeal.*fn1
On February 2, 1976, the Department of Transportation (Respondent) notified each Petitioner of his impending furlough from the department. In response to that notice, Petitioners engaged the services of Ralph L. S. Montana, Esquire (Montana), on February 4, 1976, who, on behalf of each Petitioner, filed an appeal with the Commission. On February 23, 1976, the Commission notified Montana that a hearing
on each appeal would be held on March 10, 1976. Knowing of his engagement in a criminal trial on that date, Montana sent a certified letter to the Commission, dated February 26, 1976, on behalf of Petitioners Best and Clark, requesting a continuance. The letter was delivered on March 1, 1976. No reply was made.
On March 4, 1976, Montana telephoned the Commission to determine the status of his request and was informed that the request was denied. No reason for the denial was given. Montana then referred the matter to William R. Strong, Esquire (Strong), who met with Petitioners on Friday, March 5, 1976. Strong immediately telephoned the Commission to request a continuance explaining that he needed time to interview witnesses and subpoena documents. The request was denied. Strong renewed his request at the hearing and it was again denied. Hearing Examiner, John A. M. McCarthy, made the following statement in denying the request:
We think all these people have had ample opportunity to engage counsel.
You can't just keep shifting attorneys at the eleventh hour and then some new lawyer comes in and asks for a continuance ...