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FORREST M. SWAYDIS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (07/09/84)

decided: July 9, 1984.

FORREST M. SWAYDIS, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police in the case of Court-Martial, Trooper Forrest M. Swaydis, dated March 4, 1981.

COUNSEL

Harris T. Bock, with him, Kathleen A. Fiftal, Bock and Finkelman, for petitioner.

Gregory R. Neuhauser, Deputy Attorney General, with him, Francis R. Filipi and Sally A. Lied, Deputy Attorneys General, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondent.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Rogers and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 83 Pa. Commw. Page 511]

Trooper Swaydis appeals a Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner's order dismissing him following a Court-Martial Board's (Board) determination that he had engaged in improper conduct. We affirm.

This case is here on remand*fn1 from our Supreme Court for resolution of the following issues: (1) whether there was an improper commingling of prosecutorial and adjudicatory functions; and (2) whether the Board was without the power to render an adjudication on the criminal charges.

Swaydis had been charged with violations of both the Pennsylvania State Police Field Regulations and the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. The Commissioner sent a memorandum to the Governor requesting that court-martial proceedings be convened. The memorandum, dated November 26, 1980, contained allegations that Trooper Swaydis opened a checking account under a fictitious name and address, wrote checks knowing there were insufficient funds in said account, borrowed money from three individuals without repayment, withdrew $4,300 from his savings account knowing there were no legitimate funds in the account, established a residence under an alias, traveled out of his patrol zone without permission from his supervisor,

[ 83 Pa. Commw. Page 512]

    and conducted personal business on several occasions while in uniform and using an official vehicle.

On December 2, 1980, a district magistrate dismissed criminal charges against Swaydis, finding that the Commonwealth had failed to establish a prima facie case. On December 23, 1980, the Governor recommended that court-martial proceedings be convened. It is undisputed that, when the Governor issued his recommendation, he had not been notified that the criminal charges against Swaydis had been dismissed.

Swaydis first alleges his due process rights were violated during the court-martial proceedings because the prosecutorial and adjudicatory functions in two instances were commingled. Swaydis argues that (1) the Disciplinary Officer usurped the Commissioner's duties, and (2) the appointment of the State Police Chief Counsel as Trial Judge Advocate presented the potential for bias, prejudice, and conflict of interest.

Swaydis contends that the Disciplinary Officer had the de facto responsibility of making the final decision on whether State Police members should be court-martialed*fn2 and that his invasive role permeated the adjudicatory function*fn3 and scarred the entire proceedings. He asserts that the ...


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