Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, in the case of John Frye v. Civil Service Commission, No. 3006 December Term, 1982.
Jeffrey S. Orchinik, Mozenter, Molloy & Durst, for appellant/appellee, John Frye.
Steven K. Ludwig, Assistant City Solicitor, with him, Ralph J. Teti, Chief Deputy City Solicitor, for appellee/appellant, Civil Service Commission.
Judges Craig and Doyle, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 156]
John Frye, a Philadelphia police officer, and the Philadelphia Civil Service Commission have cross-appealed a 1987 order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia which purported to modify an unappealed 1984 order of that court, which had reversed a 1982 commission decision dismissing the officer and had ordered that he be reinstated in his police officer position and receive "all backpay and other emoluments which shall have accrued to him."
The unfortunate history of this case is complicated by a number of errors.
[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 157]
The Philadelphia Civil Service Commission's decision had affirmed dismissal of the officer on the ground that his involvement in an off-duty altercation at a club, during which the discharging of his revolver resulted in the death of a citizen, constituted conduct justifying dismissal.
After the officer appealed the commission's decision to the common pleas court in December of 1982, his attorney and the city's attorney stipulated, on August 15, 1984, that the city would have until September 25, 1984, to file its brief with respect to the appeal. However, on that very same date, August 15, the common pleas court issued the above-described order, reversing the dismissal decision and ordering reinstatement and backpay from the time of dismissal. Inexplicably, the court marked that order as "UNCONTESTED," a designation apparently inconsistent with the contemporary stipulation which afforded the city an opportunity to contest the matter by filing a brief.
The official docket entries of the common pleas court show that the prothonotary entered that order and also noted the giving of notice under Pa. R.C.P. No. 236, which requires that prothonotaries mail notice of orders to parties of record. Under Pa. R.A.P. 108(a)(1), that notation also established August 15, 1984 as the date of entry of the order with respect to the commencement of the thirty-day period for appealing the order. See Matter of Dinardi, 84 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 598, 480 A.2d 338 (1984).
Therefore, on the face of the record, that August 15, 1984 order -- which the city has not appealed -- appeared to be no longer subject to appeal.
However, the parties and the court now agree that, despite the docket notation, the prothonotary failed to give either the officer or the city any notice of the 1984 order. ...