Appeal from the Order of the Deputy Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police, in the case of Pennsylvania State Police v. Trooper Ronald Leonard, In Re: Court Martial Proceedings.
Gary M. Lightman, for petitioner.
Joanna N. Reynolds, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.
Judges Barry, Colins, and McGinley, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.
[ 125 Pa. Commw. Page 642]
Petitioner, Ronald Leonard, was a trooper with the Pennsylvania State Police. In April of 1988 a Court-martial Board (Board) recommended that petitioner be dismissed for violating police regulations. The dismissal was made final by an order of the Deputy Commissioner of the state police.*fn1 This appeal followed.
[ 125 Pa. Commw. Page 643]
The dismissal was based on the following incident. Petitioner attended a small party in November of 1985 at the residence of Daniel Lemak. Cocaine was used during the party. One of the other persons present at the party, Penelope Hebert, subsequently informed the state police that petitioner had consumed cocaine at this party. The state police conducted an internal investigation and the Court-martial Board was convened. The Board determined that sufficient evidence was introduced to establish that petitioner was at a party where illegal acts were taking place, that he was aware of these acts and that he took no enforcement action with respect to these acts. The Board concluded that petitioner was guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and failure in the performance of his duties. The Board also found that petitioner did not personally use cocaine at the party. The Deputy Commissioner adopted the essence of the Board's findings and ultimate conclusions of law.
The evidence against petitioner consists primarily of the testimony of Penelope Hebert. According to Hebert, the cocaine was in plain view of Leonard during the party. Petitioner makes three arguments as to why Hebert's testimony was improper. First, petitioner argues that his right to cross-examine the witness was denied because the Board did not compel Hebert to respond to questions concerning her place of employment. While the state police attorney was obtaining basic information about the witness during direct examination, Hebert refused to answer a question as to where she worked. Petitioner's attorney then asked Hebert again, during cross-examination, where she worked and she again refused to answer. The witness expressed concern about being harassed at her work place by her former fiance, Daniel Lemak, the host at the party, who, she testified, was a friend of petitioner. The Board declined to compel the witness to answer the question because of this testimony and because
[ 125 Pa. Commw. Page 644]
the Board found the question to be irrelevant. Petitioner's attorney argued that the question might lead to information that Hebert's employer had a personal motivation in seeing petitioner dismissed from the state police.
Petitioner's second argument is that, again, his right to cross-examine a witness was denied because the Board refused to compel Hebert to testify about the name of a doctor she had consulted. During cross-examination, Hebert was asked questions concerning what occurred during this consultation, which she answered. But when she was asked to give the name of the doctor, she refused. Her reason for not giving the name was her belief that someone had forged a letter with the name of another doctor she had been seeing and sent the letter to the Department of Transportation which caused her driver's license to be suspended. Hebert testified that she feared a similar occurrence with the second doctor's name and refused to answer the question, even when the Board requested that she answer.
In disposing of these two arguments, we look to Section 711(b)(2) of The Administrative Code ...