Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of In Re: Appeal of Arnold Kriss From the Ruling of the Civil Service Commission of the City of Pittsburgh, No. SA 1, 189 of 1978.
Sanford A. Middleman, for appellant.
Arthur G. Gilkes, Jr., Assistant City Solicitor, with him Mead J. Mulvihill, Jr., City Solicitor, for appellee.
Judges Blatt, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 327]
This is an appeal by Arnold Kriss (appellant) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which affirmed the decision of the Pittsburgh Civil Service Commission (Commission) terminating his employment as a City of Pittsburgh policeman. The basis for the appellant's discharge was his ineligibility for employment under City Ordinance
[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 328120]
of 1969 which requires that all city employees be "residents in and inhabitants of" the city.*fn1
The appellant, his wife and two children had been residents of the city for several years when he purchased a lot outside the city in O'Hara Township. After constructing a home on the O'Hara Township property, the appellant sold his city residence. Upon receiving a complaint that appellant lacked a city residence, the Commission conducted a hearing, found against him and ordered his dismissal. He argued before the Commission that he was separated from his wife at the time he sold his city residence, and that only his wife and children moved to the O'Hara Township residence whereas he moved into his cousin's home which was in the city. The lower court heard the appeal de novo and affirmed the discharge.
Our scope of review when a lower court takes additional testimony in an appeal from a civil service commission is to determine whether or not the court abused its discretion or committed an error of law. Bell v. Borough Council, Borough of Conshohocken, 33 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 424, 381 A.2d 1345 (1978). The appellant argues here that the Commission did not have jurisdiction to determine his eligibility for continued employment because the jurisdiction for such a determination is vested in a tribunal of police officers pursuant to Section 7 of the Policemen's Civil Service Act (Act), Act of August 10, 1951, P.L. 1189, as amended, 53 P.S. § 23537.
It is true that Section 7 of the Act establishes a procedure for selecting, by random lots, tribunals of three officers who have primary jurisdiction to conduct hearings and adjudicate certain charges against police officers and provides:
[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 329]
Such charges may be of disability for service, in which case the court shall be one of inquiry, whose decision may be for the honorable discharge of the employe concerned; or, of neglect or violation of law or duty, inefficiency, intemperance, disobedience of orders, or unbecoming official or personal conduct, in which cases the court shall be one of trial, and its decision ...