Carter v. Wilkins

CourtSupreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
Writing for the CourtBefore WILLIAMSON; MARDEN
Citation203 A.2d 682,160 Me. 290
PartiesFrancis CARTER v. Austin WILKINS, State Forest Commissioner and State Personnel Board.
Decision Date12 October 1964

Page 682

203 A.2d 682
160 Me. 290
Francis CARTER
Austin WILKINS, State Forest Commissioner and State Personnel Board.
Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.
Oct. 12, 1964.

[160 Me. 291] Jerome G. Daviau, Waterville, for plaintiff.

Leon V. Walker, Asst. Atty. Gen., Augusta, for defendant.


MARDEN, Justice.

On appeal from a dismissal by the Superior Court of a complaint seeking review of a decision of the State Personnel Board, or, in terms of the law of certiorari, on appeal from the refusal of the Superior Court to correct a decision of the State Personnel Board.

Page 683

Plaintiff, prior to the events out of which this controversy arises, held a position in the state service, classified as Forester, under the State Personnel Law (Chapter 63, R.S.1954, as amended). Following an injury sustained in an automobile accident, and in line of duty, on June 22, 1961, and a period of disability lasting until March of 1963, plaintiff sought to return to work for the State, was not permitted to do so by ruling of the 'appointing authority' (Sec. 1, Subsection I, same) of the State Forestry Department. Plaintiff appealed from the ruling of the appointing authority to the Personnel Board (Board).

[160 Me. 292] The legal issue before the Board involved plaintiff's status and rights under the Personnel Law and rules having the effect and force of law promulgated thereunder (Sec. 4, Subsection II, same), governing absence from duty. The factual issue involved interpretation of correspondence between the plaintiff, or others on his behalf, and the Forestry Department through its Commissioner (the appointing authority) and its Deputy Commissioner, and evaluation of the nature and extent of plaintiff's disability as bearing upon his employment status. Plaintiff contends that in the light of the facts, including such facts as to compel a finding of waiver of, or estoppel to apply, certain conditions imposed by the rules, he must be considered to have been on leave of absence and refusal by the Forestry Department to restore him to duty violated his employment rights. The Department contends that plaintiff's absence, after the expiration of earned vacation and sick leave, without specific grant as required by the rules, and no facts to justify finding of waiver by the Department and no law to permit estoppel of the Department, was absence without leave which ripened into a resignation, which was recorded, and plaintiff became thus separated from the service.

The Board sustained the ruling of separation from the service, and from this Board decision plaintiff sought review in the Superior Court by complaint under the provisions of Rule 80B M.R.C.P. The Board urges that its decision is not subject to review.

The Superior Court correctly treated the complaint as a petition for writ of certiorari, in its discretion granted leave for an order (writ) of certiorari to issue (Rogers v. Brown, 134 Me. 88, 90, 181 A. 667), the Board, in response to the order, certified to the Court the record of its action, consisting of stenographic report of the plaintiff's hearing before it, exhibits, and the minutes of the pertinent Board meetings. The Superior Court dismissed the complaint (refused to revise or correct the Board's decision).

[160 Me. 293] The present issues, broadly stated, are two:

1) Does the plaintiff have the right to have the decision of the Board reviewed?

2) If so, is there reversible error?

A right of appeal is not inherent in our legal system. 4 Am.Jur., 2d, Appeal and Error § 1. It is conferred only by statute or provisions allowing review by extraordinary writ.

Rule 80B of our Rules of Civil Procedure provides:

'When a statute provides for review * * * of any action by a governmental * * *, board, * * *, whether by appeal or otherwise or when any judicial review of such action was heretofore available by extraordinary writ, proceedings for such review shall be instituted by filing a complaint with the court. * * *'

There is no statutory right of appeal from a ruling of the Personnel Board.

There being no statutory right of appeal, the right to have the decision of this administrative board reviewed rests upon its theretofore availability by extraordinary writ. Such writ was that of certiorari, known to the common law, but provided by Section 13-16 of Chapter 129, R.S.1954, as amended (Chavarie v. Robie, 135 Me.

Page 684

244, 194 A. 404) whereby the Supreme Judicial Court or the Superior Court may command an inferior court 'to certify up its record of some proceeding, not according to the course of the common law, that it may be seen and determined whether there is any error * * * .' Inh. of Nobleboro v. County Commissioners of Lincoln County, 68 Me. 548, 551; Toulouse et al. v. Board of Zoning Adjustment, City of Waterville, 147 Me. 387, 392, 87 A.2d 670. This method of review reaches only proceedings of bodies and officers acting in a judicial [160 Me. 294] or quasi-judicial capacity. Rogers, supra, 134 Me. at 90, 181 A. 667. It has been applied to review the proceedings of Justices of the Peace and of the Quorum, Emery v. Brann, 67 Me. 39; Boards of County Commissioners of which Inh. of Nobleboro, supra, and Inh. of Levant v. County Commissioners of Penobscot County, 67 Me. 429 are representative; Municipal Officers in Andrews v. King, 77 Me. 224; Board of Engineers in Nelson v. Board of Engineers of Portland Fire Department, 105 Me. 551, 75 A. 64; Board of Police in Jellerson v. Board of Police of City of Biddeford, 134 Me. 443, 187 A. 713, and Board of Zoning Adjustment in Toulouse, supra. See also 14 C.J.S. Certiorari § 46.

'Whether an act is judicial or quasi-judicial so as to be reviewable by certiorari depends on the nature of the act performed, rather than on the character of the officer or body performing it. Judicial action is an adjudication on the rights of parties who, in general, appear or are brought before the tribunal by notice or process, and on whose claims some decision or judgment is rendered.' 14 Am.Jur., Certiorari § 17. Reiterated in 14 C.J.S. Certiorari § 17 b.

If, then, the Personnel Board, acted in this case as a judicial or quasi-judicial body, its decision in that respect is subject to review by way of Rule 80B M.R.C.P.

The Personnel Law and its powers and duties to prescribe rules relative to eligibility, classification, compensation, promotion, demotion, suspension, layoff, dismissal, and leave of absence, among others, create rights in and obligations of the employee and any decision by the Board affecting those rights is quasi-judicial. See Smith v. Highway Board et al., 117 Vt. 343, 91 A.2d 805[9-11] 809, and [20, 21] 812 (1952).

It is urged that '(a)nother...

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16 cases
  • Inhabitants of Town of North Berwick v. State Bd. of Ed.
    • United States
    • Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • 10 de março de 1967
    ...and the subject-matter or whether it exceeded its jurisdiction, or otherwise proceeded in violation of law. Carter v. Wilkins, et al., 160 Me. 290, 203 A.2d 682 (1964); Toulouse et al. v. Board of Zoning Adjustment, City of Waterville, 147 Me. 387, 87 A.2d 670 (1952); Jellerson v. Board of ......
  • Dowey v. Sanford Housing Authority
    • United States
    • Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • 28 de outubro de 1986
    ...actions were quasi-judicial in nature. Lyons, 503 A.2d at 236; see also Carlson v. Oliver, 372 A.2d 226, 229 (Me.1977); Carter v. Wilkins, 160 Me. 290, 293-295, 203 A.2d 682, 683-684 (1964). Similarly, a request for performance that would formerly have been available by mandamus requires th......
  • Lyons v. Board of Directors of School Administrative Dist. No. 43
    • United States
    • Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • 9 de janeiro de 1986
    ...manner. An agency's actions are quasi-judicial in nature when it adjudicates the rights of a party before it. Carter v. Wilkins, 160 Me. 290, 294-95, 203 A.2d 682, 683-84 (1964); see also Inhabitants of North Berwick v. State Bd. of Educ., 227 A.2d 462, 467 (Me.1967). In Carter v. Wilkins, ......
  • Carlson v. Oliver
    • United States
    • Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • 7 de abril de 1977
    ...308 A.2d 582 (1973); Inhabitants of the Town of North Berwick v. State Board of Educ., Me., 227 A.2d 462, 467 (1967); Carter v. Wilkins, 160 Me. 290, 293-94, 203 A.2d 682, 683 (1964). It is well accepted and has often been stated that Rule 80B acts in part as a replacement for the writ of c......
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