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MURRAY v. SILBERSTEIN

December 14, 1988

CHARLES E. MURRAY, JR., Plaintiff
v.
ALAN K. SILBERSTEIN, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCGLYNN

JOSEPH L. MCGLYNN, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 I. BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff, Charles E. Murray, Jr., brought this action to prevent Defendant Alan K. Silberstein, President Judge of the Philadelphia Municipal Court, and the Municipal Court Board of Judges ("the Board") from removing him as Bail Commissioner. On August 15, 1986, I issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the Board from terminating Mr. Murray's employment until further notice. Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this motion for Judgment on the Pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). In considering Plaintiff's motion, I must view the pleadings in the light most favorable to Defendant, the non-moving party. Dyson v. General Motors Corp., 298 F. Supp. 1064, 1065-1066 (E.D.Pa. 1969).

 II. FACTS

 Most of the underlying facts are undisputed. The office of Bail Commissioner was established in 1984 by 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. [section] 1123(a)(5) (Purdon 1988) which permits the Municipal Court to appoint six Bail Commissioners for four-year terms. "The method of selection and appointment and removal of bail commissioners and establishing standards of conduct and the rights, responsibilities and authority of bail commissioners and the procedure for appealing from the decisions of the bail commissioners shall be provided by local rules adopted by the municipal court." Id.

 The facts underlying this dispute were first outlined by Judge Silberstein in his letter of July 3, 1986:

 
I have met with you over the past month and have made my position clear that if your wife continues as the Democratic Ward Leader that would be a breach of the agreement you made before you were selected as a Bail Commissioner and would be considered an act of misconduct under Section 1.01 of the Bail Commissioner Rules of our Court. In addition, her continuance as Democratic Ward Leader while you are a Bail Commissioner of itself, would be an act of misconduct under Section 606(a), Section 700 and Section 704 of the Bail Commissioner Rules. Accordingly, it is my intention to recommend to the Board of Judges your removal as a Bail Commissioner of this Court.

 The agreement to which Judge Silberstein referred was made between Mr. Murray and then President Judge Glancey at a time when Murray was being considered for the Bail Commissioner position. According to Judge Glancey, Plaintiff promised to resign his position as leader of the 61st ward if appointed Bail Commissioner. Furthermore, both he and his wife, Bridget A. Murray, agreed that she would not take over that position while her husband served as Bail Commissioner. *fn2" Judge Glancey, however, had no objection to her serving as committeeperson or to the suggestion that Plaintiff's father -- himself a former ward leader -- replace his son as leader of the 61st ward.

 On February 19, 1985, Mr. Murray was appointed Bail Commissioner for a four-year term commencing February 22, 1985. On February 20, 1985, he resigned as ward leader; and on March 4, 1985, the Democratic Executive Committee of the 61st ward chose Plaintiff's father -- Charles E. Murray, Sr. -- to fill the leadership position vacancy.

 Problems began in May 1986 when Mrs. Murray -- having learned that her father-in-law would not seek reelection -- announced that she would run for his position. Although Plaintiff allegedly tried to change her mind, Mrs. Murray ran and was elected ward leader on June 9, 1986.

 On June 17, 1986, Judge Silberstein, as Acting President Judge of the Philadelphia Municipal Court, Judge Glancey, and Bernard A. Scally, III, the Court Administrator of Philadelphia Municipal Court, met with Plaintiff and advised him that they considered his wife's election to be a violation of his agreement. Judge Silberstein gave Mr. Murray until July 1, 1986 to secure his wife's resignation as ward leader or himself face removal proceedings. The deadline passed and Mr. Murray was charged in a letter dated July 3, 1986 with having violated PMCBCR 1.01, 6.06, 7.00 and 7.04. The letter also notified Plaintiff of a hearing scheduled before the Board of Judges on July 17, 1986 and provided that Plaintiff could "appear with counsel and with any witnesses [he] may wish to present."

 At that meeting, the Board heard testimony from both Judge Glancey and Mr. Murray *fn3" but refused to hear from Mrs. Murray. *fn4" At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted to remove Plaintiff from his position as Bail Commissioner effective August 15, 1986. On August 15, 1986, I issued a temporary injunction enjoining until further notice Judge Silberstein, individually and on behalf of the Board of Judges, from terminating Plaintiff's employment.

 III. FIRST AMENDMENT CLAIM

 Plaintiff contends that his removal from office as Bail Commissioner pursuant to PMCBCR 1.01(d) violates his first amendment right to freedom of association. Specifically, Murray contends that the state has imposed an unconstitutional condition prohibiting him from exercising his first amendment right of association with his wife.

 The first amendment protects the right to associate with others in pursuit of political, social, economic, educational and cultural ends. Roberts v. United States Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609, 622, 82 L. Ed. 2d 462, 104 S. Ct. 3244 (1984). See N.A.A.C.P. v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 458 U.S. 886, 907-909, 73 L. Ed. 2d 1215, 102 S. Ct. 3409, reh'g denied, 459 U.S. 898, 74 L. Ed. 2d 160, 103 S. Ct. 199 (1982). It protects an individual's choice "to enter into and maintain certain intimate human relationships," and provides "a fundamental element of personal liberty." Roberts, 468 U.S. at 617-18. Although the United States Constitution does not expressly recognize a right to marital and familial association, those interests are protected by the first and fourteenth amendments. Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374, 383-86, 54 L. Ed. 2d 618, 98 S. Ct. 673 (1978); Moore v. East Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494, 499, 52 L. Ed. 2d 531, 97 S. Ct. 1932 (1977).


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