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TOWNSHIP MANAGER TOWNSHIP FALLS v. NICHOLAS STRILUK (06/03/85)

decided: June 3, 1985.

TOWNSHIP MANAGER OF THE TOWNSHIP OF FALLS, APPELLANT
v.
NICHOLAS STRILUK, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in case of Nicholas Striluk v. Falls Township Board of Supervisors, No. 83-04579-05-6.

COUNSEL

Stephen J. Springer, Labrum and Doak, for appellant.

William L. Goldman, Jr., with him, William F. Coyle, for appellee.

Judges MacPhail and Barry and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 89 Pa. Commw. Page 605]

The Township of Falls (Township) and the Board of Township Supervisors (Board) appeal here from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County directing the Board to reinstate Officer Nicholas Striluk (Appellee) to his former position on the Township's police force with three (3) months back pay. We affirm.

The relevant facts are undisputed. On May 19, 1983, Appellee was involved in an automobile accident while off-duty. As a result of the accident, Appellee

[ 89 Pa. Commw. Page 606]

    was charged with violating Section 3731 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 3731.*fn1 The Township's Chief of Police suspended Appellee from duty, charging him with (1) committing a misdemeanor and (2) conduct unbecoming an officer. A hearing was held on May 31, 1983. On June 9, 1983, the Board resolved to suspend Appellee for nine (9) months without pay, effective May 31, 1983.*fn2

Appellee appealed, and the trial court ordered a hearing for the express purpose of presentation of supplemental testimony. On the date of the hearing, however, the trial court stated that a de novo hearing would be held. The Board did not object but requested a continuance, which was denied. At the conclusion of the de novo hearing, the trial court sustained the Board's determination that Appellee had committed serious misconduct which warranted discipline but modified the penalty imposed.

In this appeal, the Board presents two issues for our review: (1) whether the trial court erred in conducting a de novo hearing and (2) whether the trial court erred in modifying the penalty.

The Board argues that the trial court exceeded its scope of review in conducting a de novo hearing, citing to our decision in Lower Providence Township v. Nagle, 79 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 322, 469 A.2d 338 (1984). In Nagle, we held that Section 754(b) of the Local Agency Law (Law), 2 Pa. C.S. § 754(b) defined the court of common ...


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