Original jurisdiction in case of Joseph H. Reiter v. Department of Justice of Pennsylvania and Governor of Pennsylvania.
Harry D. Shargel, for petitioner.
Joseph L. McCann, Deputy Attorney General, with him Norman J. Watkins, Deputy Attorney General, and J. Justin Blewitt, Jr., Acting Attorney General, for respondents.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr. and Mencer, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.
The Governor*fn1 and the Department of Justice of Pennsylvania, by preliminary objections, demur to a mandamus action instituted by Joseph H. Reiter. Reiter asks us to order the Department to reinstate him with back pay as Deputy Attorney General and to enjoin the Governor from future interference with Reiter's employment.
We sustain the preliminary objections.
Did the Governor dismiss him without the consent and over the objection of the Attorney General arbitrarily, without cause, and without authority in law so as to support an action in mandamus?
Reiter's complaint recites that the Attorney General*fn2 appointed him Special Deputy Attorney General
and Director of the Office of Drug Law Enforcement in August, 1973, and that his performance in both capacities was satisfactory to the Attorney General. The then-Governor Shapp sent Reiter a letter of dismissal on March 30, 1977, which was confirmed by a letter dated the same day from the Personnel Director of the Justice Department, a copy of which was also sent to the Attorney General.*fn3
Our cases have repeatedly stressed the extraordinary nature of a writ of mandamus and hold that mandamus "lies only to compel the performance of a ministerial act or mandatory duty where there is a clear legal right in the plaintiff, a corresponding duty in the defendant, and a want of any other adequate remedy." Kaplan v. Smith, 40 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 95, 97, 396 A.2d 493, 494 (1979).
As an appointed Assistant Attorney General, Reiter was an employee-at-will afforded neither tenure nor protection against dismissal without cause. See Rosenthal v. Rizzo, 555 F.2d 390 (3rd Cir. 1977); Scott v. Philadelphia Parking Authority, 402 Pa. 151, 166 A.2d 278 (1960); Mahoney v. Philadelphia Housing Authority, 13 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 243, 320 A.2d 459 (1974). This being so, can we ...