Impermissible Commingling of Functions Elements
In Lyness v. State Board of Medicine, 529 Pa. 535, 605 A.2d 1204 (1992), Samuel S. Lyness, M.D. (Lyness), had his license to practice medicine and surgery in Pennsylvania revoked by the State Board of Medicine (Board of Medicine).
This was the result of alleged acts of sexual impropriety. the Board of Medicine initiated disciplinary hearings, concluded that Lyness committed these sexual acts, and revoked his license.
On appeal to this Court, the adjudication of the Board of Medicine was upheld. Lyness sought a review of that determination and contended that the Board of Medicine had violated his due process rights by commingling its prosecutorial and adjudicative functions.
Our Supreme Court agreed with Lyness and found that because the board acted as prosecutor and ultimate fact-finder it violated notions of fairness and due process.
The Supreme Court reversed and remanded.
In Lyness , the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined the elements necessary to constitute an impermissible commingling of functions:
This Court has recognized the well-established principle that due process is fully applicable to adjudicative hearings involving substantial property rights...."
Such property rights perforce include the right of an individual to pursue a livelihood or profession, thus triggering the protective mechanism of procedural due process.
A fortiori, this is true where, as here, an administrative board is empowered by the State to regulate the conduct of professionals and ultimately impose sanctions which may include the revocation of a license to practice medicine in the Commonwealth.
In determining what process is due Pennsylvania citizens, the Court has established a clear path when it comes to commingling prosecutorial and adjudicatory functions.
There is a strong notion under Pennsylvania law that even an appearance of bias and partiality must be viewed with deep skepticism, in a system which guarantees due process to each citizen....