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ARTHUR D. MURPHY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (08/30/84)

decided: August 30, 1984.

ARTHUR D. MURPHY, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, WHITE HAVEN CENTER, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the State Civil Service Commission in the case of Arthur D. Murphy v. White Haven Center, Department of Public Welfare, Appeal No. 3797.

COUNSEL

William R. Lee, for petitioner.

Thomas Blazusiak, Assistant Counsel, with him, James S. Marshall, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Williams, Jr., MacPhail and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.

Author: Williams

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 25]

Arthur D. Murphy (Murphy) appeals from an order of the State Civil Service Commission (Commission) which affirmed an order of the Department of Public Welfare, White Haven Center (White Haven), suspending and then removing him from his position there. Murphy was removed as a result of his alleged attempt to secure a promotion by paying $500 to White Haven's Director.

The record before us presents the following factual scenario. For approximately sixteen years prior to his removal, Murphy was employed at White Haven as a Retardation Aide. During his years of employment, Murphy received only one promotion, from Mental Retardation Aide I to II. On September 10, 1981, Murphy met with a co-worker, Bernadette Yourren, off the grounds of the institution. There, Murphy gave Yourren $500 in currency in an envelope as well as a copy of a letter written on Murphy's behalf by a state representative. While together, Yourren wrote a note to accompany the $500 and the letter which was signed "Art."*fn1 Yourren then left to deliver the envelope

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 26]

    containing the $500, the handwritten note and the letter to White Haven's director, Dr. David J. Koehn.*fn2 At the time, Murphy had an application pending for a number of promotion opportunities which then existed at White Haven. Upon receipt of the envelope and its contents, Dr. Koehn contacted the Attorney General's office and cooperated in the subsequent investigation.

White Haven suspended Murphy from his position at White Haven without pay, effective October 29, 1981, pursuant to Section 803 of the Civil Service Act.*fn3 On December 11, 1981, Murphy was removed from his position at White Haven pursuant to Section 807 of the Civil Service Act.*fn4 Murphy appealed his removal to the Civil Service Commission (Commission), which held a hearing on August 12, 1982. On February 3, 1983 the Commission entered its order dismissing Murphy's appeal and sustaining his suspension and removal by White Haven. Murphy then petitioned this Court for review.

In this appeal, Murphy contends that the Commission committed several errors of law, that it abused its discretion and that there was not substantial evidence to support the order. In the case of a regular civil service employee, as was Murphy, the appointing authority, White Haven, has the burden of proof to show just cause so as to justify removal. Section 807 of the Civil Service Act, 71 P.S. § 741.807; Hoffman v. Pennsylvania Department of Health, 73 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 284, 458 A.2d 303 (1983). Of course, our

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 27]

    scope of review, where the party with the burden of proof has prevailed below, is to determine whether the appellant's constitutional rights were violated, an error of law committed or a necessary finding is not supported by substantial evidence. Section 704 of the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S. § 704; Mufson v. Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Philadelphia State Hospital, 72 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 404, 456 A.2d 736 (1983); Magnelli ...


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