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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JAMES R. COLSTON (02/23/87)

decided: February 23, 1987.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AFFAIRS, PETITIONER
v.
JAMES R. COLSTON, JR., RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the State Civil Service Commission in the case of James R. Colston, Jr. v. Department of Community Affairs, Appeal No. 5594(R).

COUNSEL

Bernadette Barattini, Assistant Counsel, with her, Michael A. Donadee, Chief Counsel, for petitioner.

Melville G. M. Walwyn, Dade, Harris & Walwyn, P.C., for respondent.

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

Author: Macphail

[ 104 Pa. Commw. Page 160]

The Department of Community Affairs (Department) petitions for our review of an order of the State Civil Service Commission (Commission) which overruled the Department's action in removing James R. Colston, Jr. (Respondent) from his regular status position as Human Resources Development Manager. The Commission found that Respondent's removal was without just cause and was discriminatory in nature. See Sections 807 and 905.1 of the Civil Service Act, Act of August 5, 1941, P.L. 752, as amended, 71 P.S. ยงยง 741.807, 741.905a.*fn1

[ 104 Pa. Commw. Page 161]

Respondent was dismissed from his position with the Department on March 13, 1985 for allegedly filing false information on his 1984 financial interest statements filed in order to comply with the State Ethics Act*fn2 and the Governor's Code of Conduct.*fn3 The Commission found as facts that:

4. Appellant owned a number of rental properties in the City of Harrisburg. N.T. p. 57; AA Exs. 7 & 8.

5. Appellant did not list most of his properties on his 1984 Code of Conduct Statement of Financial Interest, and listed none on his 1984 State Ethics Commission statement. N.T. pp. 19, 62, 71; AA Exs. 4 & 5.

Respondent does not dispute that he owned 37 properties during the applicable reporting period for the 1984 financial statements and that the only properties reported appear on the Code of Conduct statement as "1116 thru [sic] 1136 Market St., Hgb. [sic], Pa."

Despite these facts, the Commission nevertheless concluded that the Department failed to establish just cause for the dismissal. The Commission's conclusion was apparently based on Respondent's contention that the instructions regarding disclosure of real estate holdings were unclear. Moreover, the Commission found that the review of Respondent's financial statements by the Department was "somewhat extraordinary" and motivated by "something other than a desire to see the goals of the financial disclosure ...


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