Cross v. Bruce, 84-154

Decision Date17 December 1984
Docket NumberNo. 84-154,84-154
Citation284 Ark. 230,681 S.W.2d 339
PartiesKenneth T. CROSS, Jr., Appellant, v. Dale BRUCE et al., Appellees.
CourtArkansas Supreme Court

Givens & Buzbee, by J.R. Buzbee, Little Rock, for appellant.

Jim Hamilton by Terry Ballard, North Little Rock, for appellee.

Hilburn, Calhoon, Forster, Harper & Pruniski, Ltd. by John F. Forster, Jr. and Scott E. Daniel, North Little Rock, for intervenor.

HICKMAN, Justice.

Kenneth Cross, a sergeant with the North Little Rock Police Department, filed suit seeking promotion to the rank of lieutenant. Randy Johnson, who was promoted ahead of Cross, was a named defendant. The circuit court upheld the promotion and denied Cross any relief, finding that Johnson was at the top of a valid list at the time of the promotion. We affirm the court's decision for to do otherwise would mean a civil service promotion list would be valid for more than one year, a procedure contrary to the statute. This is a case of first impression and to our knowledge there is no controlling case law. The facts are important.

The initial promotion list was certified January 21, 1982, with the first three officers eligible for promotion listed in the following order: Bob Scarborough, Don Gilbert and Cross. No promotions were made from this list. The second list was issued December 9, 1982, listing the same officers in the same order. Scarborough was promoted to lieutenant on February 21, 1983, and Gilbert on September 14, 1983. This left Cross at the top of the list. But a third list was certified on December 8, 1983, and Cross was again third, behind officers Randy Johnson and Jerry Lamberson. It was from this list that Randy Johnson was promoted on January 10, 1984.

Cross' argument is essentially this: there can only be one list for promotion, the list must remain in effect for one year, and a new list is not valid until the old list has expired. Therefore, under his argument the first list made January 21, 1982, could not have been superseded until January 21, 1983; consequently, the second list, while issued on December 9, 1982, actually was effective from January 21, 1983, until January, 1984, making Cross at the top of the eligibility list at the time of Johnson's promotion. Simply stated, the issue is whether there can be more than one list in effect simultaneously.

The controlling statute, Ark.Stat.Ann. § 19-1603 4th (Repl.1980), is part of a civil service system governing the police and fire departments in the state. That statute, which provides for eligibility lists for promotion, does not expressly dictate the result in this case. It merely states:

These rules shall provide: ....

4th. For the creation of eligible lists for each rank of employment in said departments in which shall be entered the names of the successful candidates in the order of their standing in the examination. No person shall be eligible for examination for advancement from a lower to a higher rank until he shall have served at least one (1) year in the lower rank except in case of emergency, which emergency shall be decided by the Board of Commissioners. All lists for appointments or promotions as certified by the Board of Civil Service Commissioners shall be and remain in force and effect for the period of one (1) year from the date thereof and at the expiration of said period all right of priority under said lists shall cease.

The statute in no way precludes the existence of more than one list. Cross concedes that no promotions were made while two lists were in existence. There are sound reasons why the department should not be limited to one list. Vacancies cannot be foretold with certainty and a valid list must be...

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1 cases
  • Burcham v. City of Van Buren
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • November 6, 1997
    ...to the appellees' reading of the statute. In support of his interpretation, Burcham cites this court to three cases. Cross v. Bruce, 284 Ark. 230, 681 S.W.2d 339 (1984); Orrell & Abernathy v. City of Hot Springs, 265 Ark. 267, 578 S.W.2d 18 (1979); Smith v. Little Rock Civil Serv. Comm., 21......

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