Diebold v. Civil Service Commission of St. Louis County, 79-1192

Decision Date10 December 1979
Docket NumberNo. 79-1192,79-1192
PartiesRoy F. DIEBOLD, Appellant, v. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION OF ST. LOUIS COUNTY, etc., et al., Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit

Stephen J. Nangle, Clayton, Mo., for appellant.

Dennis C. Affolter, Asst. County Counselor, Clayton, Mo., for appellees; Thomas W. Wehrle, St. Louis County Counselor, Clayton, Mo., on brief.

Before ROSS and STEPHENSON, Circuit Judges, and McMANUS, District Judge. *

ROSS, Circuit Judge.

This appeal poses the difficult constitutional question of whether an indicted individual's fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination is threatened if he must participate in an administrative proceeding, as the sole means of contesting the loss of his job, which involves consideration of matters related to or similar to those for which a criminal indictment has been issued. Even where, as here, the accused employee is free to assert the privilege in the administrative proceeding, the choices available to him are still undesirable. He may either elect to remain silent while the administrative commission hears evidence of his criminal conduct, and virtually guarantee the loss of his job, or he may voluntarily testify and waive the fifth amendment privilege.

Preferring neither of these choices, the employee in this action filed suit in the district court 1 seeking injunctive relief under 28 U.S.C. § 1343, 2 declaratory relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2201, reinstatement to his job, and alleging violation of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The district court denied injunctive relief on November 8, 1978, and granted defendants' motion for summary judgment on February 6, 1979, holding that no case or controversy existed and that, as a matter of law, the administrative proceeding in this case was constitutionally sound. We agree with the district court that there existed no justiciable controversy over the employee's participation in the proceeding. Moreover, we agree that, as a matter of law, the dilemma forced upon the appellant was a constitutionally permissible one.

The appellant in this action, Roy F. Diebold, was dismissed from his job with the St. Louis County Civil Service (Commission) on September 7, 1978, following his arrest for child molestation. The letter of dismissal listed both his alleged criminal and immoral conduct And his incompetency and inefficiency as reasons for termination of the employment relationship. It should be noted that either of these grounds would be sufficient for the dismissal of an employee under the Civil Service Commission's rules.

The following day, September 8, Diebold's attorney filed an appeal of the dismissal, requesting a hearing before the Commission. On October 4 he informed the Commission that his client would invoke his fifth amendment privilege until the criminal charges for child molestation were resolved, since it appeared that the Commission proceeding would cover allegations of child molestation similar to those for which he was indicted. Certain rules of the Commission, however, presented potential problems resulting from this approach:

(a) Rule XVIII Sec. 2(B)(5):

Unless incapacitated, the person placing an appeal before the Commission shall appear personally and may not be excused from answering questions and supplying information. Either party may have legal counsel at such a hearing.

(b) Rule XVIII Sec. 2(B)(8):

Employees in the Classified Service shall be required to attend and testify without subpoena. If any employee shall wilfully refuse to testify or answer any questions relative to the matter being heard by the Commission on any grounds, He may be dismissed from the classified service.

(Emphasis supplied.) Fearing that Diebold's invocation of the fifth amendment might provide separate grounds for dismissal, the attorney requested a policy statement from the Commission assuring Diebold that the assertion of the privilege would not prejudice his appeal.

On the same day that the Commission mailed its refusal to issue the policy statement, Diebold filed the complaint and motion for preliminary injunction with the district court. The preliminary injunction was denied, and the Commission began its administrative proceedings on November 9. It was during this session that the Commission's chairman stated that Diebold's refusal to answer a question on fifth amendment grounds would not provide "separate grounds for mandatory dismissal under our rules." On December 21, the Commission upheld Diebold's dismissal, and on February 6, the defendants' motion for summary judgment was granted.

On appeal, Diebold asserts that the granting of a summary judgment on the defendants' behalf was improper because genuine issues as to material facts were in existence at the time it was granted. In addition, Diebold contends that, as a matter of law, the Commission was not entitled to a judgment on the merits.


At the outset, we recognize that in reviewing a decision of a district court to grant a summary judgment, we apply the same standard as the trial court. Butler v. MFA Life Insurance Co., 591 F.2d 448, 451 (8th Cir. 1979). Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) a summary judgment should be granted only where there "is no genuine issue as to any material fact and * * * the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Furthermore, the facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and the court must give that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the facts. Butler v. MFA Life Insurance Co., supra, 591 F.2d at 451. Even viewed in this light, however, we are convinced that this case presents neither genuine factual issues nor a case and controversy.

In denying Diebold's request for injunctive relief, the district court determined that there was no indication that Diebold was or would have been penalized for invoking the fifth amendment in the Commission's proceedings. There was not even a showing that Diebold would have been required to testify at the hearing. Furthermore, at a Commission hearing the following day, November 9, the chairman stated that Diebold's invocation of the privilege would not provide separate grounds for dismissal under the Commission's rules. 3 The Commission then moved for a summary judgment, claiming that no live controversy existed over the application of the rules to Diebold's case, and the motion was granted. We agree with the district court that no deprivation of constitutional rights has yet occurred. And since no further hearings are contemplated, we hold that no factual issues are presented to us for resolution.

Diebold nevertheless contends that he is at least entitled to a declaratory judgment since the Commission's rules are still in existence and could be enforced in spite of the chairman's intentions. We disagree with this argument. Diebold's position seems to ignore the clear message of this court in Cass County v. United States, 570 F.2d 737, 740 (8th Cir. 1978), wherein we stated that even under the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, "(i)n order to present a 'controversy,' a question must not be abstract but must define an issue which is concrete and specific." The mere threat that the Commission's rules might someday be enforced does not provide us with a concrete or specific issue, as was pointed out in United Public Workers...

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    • United States
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    • 16 d5 Julho d5 1982
    ...of the fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination." Luman v. Tanzler, 411 F.2d at 167. In Diebold v. Civil Service Commission of St. Louis County, 611 F.2d 697 (8th Cir. 1979), a public employee was dismissed from his job following an arrest for a criminal offense. He was required......
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    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Minnesota
    • 12 d5 Janeiro d5 1996
    ...guarantee the loss of his job, or he may voluntarily testify and waive the fifth amendment privilege. Diebold v. Civil Service Commission, 611 F.2d 697, 698 (8th Cir.1979). The Court concluded that "the dilemma forced upon the employee was a constitutionally permissible one." Id. at 699. As......
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    ...privilege against self-incrimination is not an impermissible burden on his Fifth Amendment rights. Diebold v. Civil Service Commission of St. Louis County, 611 F.2d 697 (8th Cir. 1979); Luman v. Tanzler, 411 F.2d 164 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 396 U.S. 929, 90 S.Ct. 264, 24 L.Ed.2d 227 (1969......
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