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TOWNSHIP ASTON v. DAVID MOREY (01/16/86)

decided: January 16, 1986.

TOWNSHIP OF ASTON, APPELLANT
v.
DAVID MOREY, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in case of David Morey v. Aston Township Civil Service Commission, No. 83-16351.

COUNSEL

Marc Lamer, for appellant.

S. Stanton Miller, Jr., Dunn and Miller, for appellee.

Judges Rogers, Barry and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.

Author: Barry

[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 219]

The Township of Aston (Township) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County which reversed a decision of the Aston Township Civil Service Commission (Commission) suspending appellee, Detective David Morey.

According to the Commission's findings, a disagreement arose between Detective Morey and James McCarthy, Chief of Police of Aston Township, over the disposition of a criminal case. Between April 5, 1983 and April 20, 1983, Chief McCarthy and Detective Morey exchanged numerous memos and discussed the case on several occasions. On April 20, 1983, Chief McCarthy approached Detective Morey in his office

[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 220]

    and told him to "Knock off this stupid letter-writing campaign, or there's going to be smoke." (N.T., pp. 19-20, September 28, 1983). The argument became heated and, realizing that Detective Morey was upset, Chief McCarthy requested that he return that evening to further discuss the matter. At the meeting, Chief McCarthy expressed concern over a developing communications problem between the two men. He directed Detective Morey to get a pencil and paper and to take notes in order to assure a mutual understanding of the meeting. Detective Morey refused this order. When the discussion became more intense, Detective Morey removed his I.D. case and badge as well as his service revolver, placed them on the table in front of him, and dared Chief McCarthy to suspend him. Chief McCarthy instructed Detective Morey numerous times to sit down but Detective Morey did not. At one point during the argument Detective Morey apparently told Chief McCarthy that "I've had your shit up to here." (N.T., p. 124, September 28, 1983). Chief McCarthy ended the argument when he told Detective Morey to go home for the evening and report back to work the next morning at 9:00 a.m. Detective Morey complied and left the meeting.

The next morning the two men met in Chief McCarthy's office to discuss the incident. Detective Morey received a letter of reprimand which detailed the incident and set forth violations of the Aston Township Police Department Disciplinary Code and the Aston Township Police Civil Service Rules and Regulations. The letter of reprimand became part of Detective Morey's personnel file.

Thereafter, the Commission refused a request by Detective Morey for a hearing regarding the letter of reprimand. As a result, Detective Morey filed a Complaint in Mandamus seeking to compel the Commission to grant him a hearing. On September 13, 1983, the

[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 221]

    trial court concluded that, because Detective Morey was sent home early on the evening of April 20, 1983, he had, in fact, been suspended for a few hours and he was, ...


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