OF JUDGMENT: 03/03/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. FORREST A. JOHNSON JR. JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: PAUL ANDERSON KOERBER
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: EDGAR HYDE CARBY
LEE, C.J., CARLTON AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.
In this appeal, we must determine whether there was
substantial evidence to support the decision of the Civil
Service Commission (CSC) of the City of Natchez to suspend
and demote Vince Bates, a Natchez police officer.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On June 19, 2014, Bates placed a personal tracking device on
a fellow officer's patrol car. This officer, Elvis
Prater, filed an offense report, and Bates was charged with
trespass and disturbing the peace. These charges were later
dismissed. After an internal investigation and a
pre-termination hearing, the City of Natchez recommended
terminating Bates's employment. The City determined that
Bates had violated the City's personnel policy by
exhibiting conduct unbecoming for an officer and improper use
of a City vehicle. Bates then appealed to the CSC. After a
hearing, the CSC determined that Bates should not have been
terminated and modified the City's termination order. The
CSC suspended Bates for four months without pay and demoted
him to a patrolman with no supervisory duties.
Bates appealed to the Adams County Circuit Court. After
reviewing the record, the trial found that substantial
evidence existed to support the CSC's decision and that
the CSC acted in good faith.
Bates now appeals, asserting that the CSC's decision
lacked substantial evidence and that his due-process rights
were violated. Finding no error, we affirm.
A CSC's review of a city's decision to remove,
suspend, demote, or discharge a civil-service employee is
limited to determining whether the "disciplinary action
was or was not made for political or religious reasons and
was or was not made in good faith for cause." Miss. Code
Ann. § 21-31-23 (Rev. 2015). A trial court's review
of the CSC's decision is limited to a review of the
transcript of the proceedings before the Commission to
determine "whether the judgment or order of removal,
discharge, demotion, suspension[, ] or combination thereof
made by the Commission, was or was not made in good faith for
cause . . . ." Id.
Our standard of review is limited to "whether or not the
action of the [CSC] was in good faith for cause."
Necaise v. City of Waveland, 170 So.3d 616, 618
(¶9) (Miss. Ct. App. 2015) (quoting City of
Vicksburg v. Lane, 11 So.3d 162, 165 (¶10) (Miss.
Ct. App. 2009)). "Intertwined with this question is
whether or not there was substantial evidence before the
[CSC] to support its ...