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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. MARK E. EHNOT (11/02/87)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: November 2, 1987.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT GRATERFORD, DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, PETITIONER
v.
MARK E. EHNOT, RESPONDENT

Appeal from the order of the State Civil Service Commission, in case of Mark E. Ehnot v. State Correctional Institution at Graterford, Department of Corrections, Appeal No. 6043.

COUNSEL

David B. Farney, Assistant Counsel, for petitioner.

No appearance for respondent.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Doyle, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 609]

The Department of Corrections (Department) appeals a State Civil Service Commission (Commission) order reversing the Department's five-day suspension of Mark Ehnot from his position as Institutional Music Teacher I. We affirm.

The Department suspended Ehnot, a music teacher at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, on the charge of "negligently" importing contraband methamphetamine into the Institution. The methamphetamine was found taped to the inside of Ehnot's music folder. It was stipulated that the contraband was planted there without Ehnot's knowledge by an inmate with a

[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 610]

    personal vengeance against Ehnot. Institution officials discovered the contraband when, acting upon a anonymous tip, they searched Ehnot when he reentered the prison on the following day.

Section 803 of the Civil Service Act*fn1 requires that disciplinary suspensions be for good cause. The alleged "good cause" must relate to one's competence and ability to properly execute job duties.*fn2 Toland v. State Correctional Institution at Graterford, 95 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 634, 506 A.2d 504 (1986).

The Commission concluded that the Department did not have "good cause" for the suspension because Ehnot had no duty to secure his personal effects since he had no knowledge that he was carrying contraband.

The Department contends*fn3 that it established good cause in that Ehnot neglected his duty to search his

[ 110 Pa. Commw. Page 611]

    personal effects before reentering the prison. We disagree.

The Commission properly concluded that the Department failed to establish that Ehnot had a duty to conduct a self-inspection and, therefore, the suspension was not for good cause. The Department produced no evidence of any rule or regulation imposing such a duty. Indeed, a Corrections Officer Captain testified that he knew of no such rule*fn4 and stated that Ehnot's duty as a music teacher is only to report security infractions to an officer if he is aware of such violations.*fn5

Because Ehnot's actions do not relate to his competence and ability to perform job duties, they cannot supply the requisite "good cause" for a suspension.

The Commission's order is affirmed.

Order

The order of the State Civil Service Commission, No. 6043 dated March 27, 1986, is affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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