Does Failure to File Charges Within First 30 Days of Suspension Deprive the Board of Jurisdiction to Hear a Termination Case ?
In Armstead v. Sheahan, 298 Ill. App. 3d 892, 700 N.E.2d 149, 233 Ill. Dec. 48 (1998), a random drug test showed that a deputy had been using marijuana, in violation of department policy.
The sheriff immediately suspended her with pay.
Two months later a brief hearing was held and the deputy was suspended once again, this time without pay. Less than a month after the first hearing, formal charges were filed with the Board seeking termination of the deputy's employment.
Over a year later the Board held a hearing and ordered the deputy discharged for cause. Armstead, 298 Ill. App. 3d at 894, 700 N.E.2d at 150.
The deputy appealed, arguing, inter alia, that the Board had lacked jurisdiction to hear her case since charges had not been filed within 30 days of her initial suspension.
The circuit court agreed that the Board had lacked jurisdiction and ordered the deputy reinstated.
The appellate court reversed.
The court found that, in light of changes in the Board rules since Zurek was decided, it was no longer necessary to bring charges for termination within the initial 30 days of a suspension and, consequently, that the Board had jurisdiction. Armstead, 298 Ill. App. 3d at 896, 700 N.E.2d at 151-52.
Armstead held that failure to file charges within the first 30 days of suspension does not deprive the Board of jurisdiction to hear a termination case. Armstead, 298 Ill. App. 3d at 896, 700 N.E.2d at 151-52.
However, it is clear from the language of sections 3-7011 and 3-7012 of the Code that it is not permissible to wait more than 30 days to file charges for a suspension.
If the sheriff could to wait more than 30 days after the commencement of a suspension before filing charges, this would enable the sheriff to suspend for more than 30 days without charges or a hearing, which sections 3-7011 and 3-7012 forbid.
The power of an administrative agency such as the Board is strictly circumscribed by its enabling statute.
"To the extent that an agency acts outside its statutory authority, it acts without jurisdiction." Armstead, 298 Ill. App. 3d at 894, 700 N.E.2d at 150.
Sections 3-7011 and 3-7012 do not allow suspensions of more than 30 days without formal charges.
Consequently, the Board does not have jurisdiction to hear suspension cases in which charges were filed more than 30 days after the commencement of the suspension.
Armstead, moreover, does not contradict this conclusion, for the Armstead court specifically noted that the deputy was not challenging her suspension, and thus it did not consider that issue. Armstead, 298 Ill. App. 3d at 896, 700 N.E.2d at 152.