A panel of the Fifth District Appellate Court has reversed a St. Clair County ruling in favor of a former police officer seeking review of an administrative hearing that resulted in his termination.
In an unpublished order handed down Thursday, the appeals panel reversed St. Clair County Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn’s ruling granting the City of East St. Louis’ motion to dismiss Lance Murphy’s complaint for administrative review.
Justice Stephen Spomer delivered the panel’s order and Justices Melissa Chapman and Judy Cates concurred.
McGlynn, whose ruling was reversed in this case, lost to Cates in last year’s election for a seat on the appellate court. He was appointed in June to fill a vacancy on the St. Clair County bench that was left by the recent resignation of Michael Cook.
In August 2011, Murphy filed his complaint for administrative review of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners of East St. Louis’ decision to terminate his employment as a police officer following a July 2011 hearing.
Murphy and his attorney left the hearing before it started and did not present any of their own evidence accusing the board of “being biased and prejudiced,” the appellate court order notes.
Following the hearing that proceeded without Murphy or his attorney, the board determined that termination was appropriate based on the evidence presented. The appeals panel did not detail the evidence presented or the reason behind Murphy’s firing in its order.
The city in October 2011 filed a motion to dismiss Murphy’s complaint, arguing that he had waived his right to appeal because he chose to leave the administrative hearing without presenting evidence when he had the opportunity to do so.
In June 2012, the order states, McGlynn “granted the city’s motion to dismiss without giving any reason as to why, but presumably accepting the City's argument that the plaintiff waived his right to an appeal when he left the administrative proceeding.”
Murphy appealed the following month.
On behalf of the Fifth District panel, Spomer wrote that “there is nothing in the Administrative Review Law or the case law that suggests a party must present evidence at an adjudicatory hearing in order to seek administrative review of the decision rendered as a result of that hearing.”
The only requirements, he wrote, is that there must be a final administrative decision and that the party must file a complaint for review within 35 days.
Since an administrative hearing decision was made and Murphy followed the requirements of the law, including filing a timely complaint, Spomer wrote that “There is no legal reason the plaintiff is not entitled to administrative review of the ruling.”
As such, the appeals panel reversed McGlynn’s ruling and remanded for further proceedings.